Message from the President & General Counsel
Two weeks ago, the federal court in Washington, D.C. delivered two important victories for democracy in Texas. As explained in further detail below, the court refused to allow the state to implement its discriminatory redistricting plan or to move forward with its unnecessary and restrictive voter identification law. MALDEF and its team of litigators played a critical and leading role in both of these victories, but the fight continues. Texas will revisit redistricting, but past patterns overwhelmingly indicate that our litigation will again be necessary to secure fair representation for the Latino community, which now comprises 38 percent of the Texas population. At the same time, Texas continues its defense of its restriction on voter participation by seeking to challenge the constitutionality of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) of 1965.
The Voting Rights Act, now approaching its 50th anniversary, has been called the most successful civil rights law in our history, yet only a handful of legal organizations in the entire nation have developed and maintained the expertise to regularly pursue lawsuits under the VRA. MALDEF is proud to be one of that small handful of organizations. We have led challenges to discriminatory redistricting at state and local level throughout our history, including several Supreme Court victories. We have led challenges to ballot restrictions, whether through unnecessary i.d. requirements or failure to provide bilingual ballot materials. With the growth of the Latino community, the need for this work has only increased, and we look forward to many more victories to expand electoral representation for the Latino community.
However, one significant challenge is that VRA cases, involving numerous experts providing complex testimony and many hours of evidence-gathering, are expensive cases. They require both money to pay the experts and lots and lots of attorney time, stretching the resources of an organization with only less than two dozen lawyers nationwide. We need your help to wage courtroom battles leading to victories like the ones described below. Please support our efforts to ensure that the VRA continues to work to provide greater opportunities for the Latino community to see and support its elected leadership in serving the best interests of our entire nation.
Thomas A. Saenz
President and General Counsel
MALDEF BLOCKS TEXAS' DISCRIMINATORY VOTER-ID LAW IN FEDERAL COURT
On August 30th, a federal court in Washington DC issued a ruling in Texas v. Holder denying preclearance under the Voting Rights Act for Texas’ proposed voter ID law. The court concluded that Texas was unable to show that its voter identification law was non-discriminatory. Moreover, the court found that the law will weigh more heavily on the poor and racial minorities in the state, which is likely to reduce minority voter strength overall.
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FEDERAL COURT BLOCKS TEXAS REDISTRICTING PLANS
On August 28th, a three-judge federal panel issued a ruling in Texas v. United States denying preclearance under section 5 of the Voting Rights Act for three Texas statewide redistricting plans. MALDEF intervened on behalf of Latino voters to challenge the congressional and state House redistricting plans on the grounds that they that discriminated against Latino voters.
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Founded in 1968, MALDEF is the nation's leading Latino legal civil rights organization. Often described as the "law firm of the Latino community," MALDEF promotes social change through advocacy, communications, community education, and litigation in the areas of education, employment, immigrant rights, and political access. For more information on MALDEF, please visit: www.maldef.org.