FEDERAL COURT REJECTS LATEST ATTEMPT TO CREATE DIFFERENT CLASSES OF CONSTITUENTS THROUGH EXCLUSIONARY REDISTRICTING
Attempt to Redistrict Boundaries for Texas Senate Dismissed, Highlighting Urgent Need to Revive Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act
AUSTIN, TX - Last week, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas dismissed Evenwel v. Perry, a lawsuit which attempted to force the Texas Legislature to redraw its Senate District boundaries based on the voting electorate rather than total population numbers. MALDEF sought to intervene in the case on behalf of the Texas Senate Hispanic Caucus, five registered voters, and a U.S. citizen minor, but the court dismissed the case before ruling on the motion to intervene.
"These repeated, pernicious attempts to discount some persons, including large numbers of future voting citizens, in drawing legislative districts seek to take our country back to the 19th century when a devil's bargain placed a provision in our original Constitution that counted some residents as only three-fifths of a person," stated Thomas A. Saenz, MALDEF President and General Counsel. "We must work to ensure that these purveyors of apartheid continue to face defeat in the courtroom."
Evenwell v. Perry was the second attempt to force exclusionary redistricting in Texas. MALDEF also intervened in the first case, Lepak v. City of Irving, in which several residents of Irving, Texas, sued the City of Irving to allocate council districts based on citizen voting age population. In both cases, the courts held that the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause allows voting districts to be based on total population, versus citizen voting age population.
The continuous redistricting challenges that seek to overturn well-established redistricting laws further affirm the need to revive Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. Last July, the Supreme Court ruled unconstitutional a portion of the law used to identify states and localities that must follow special procedures before implementing changes in their voting systems. These frivolous lawsuits showcase the extent to which certain parties will go to suppress fair representation. MALDEF will continue to fight for equal representation and to protect the right to vote.
Founded in 1968, MALDEF is the nation's leading Latino legal civil rights organization. Often described as the "Latino Legal Voice for Civil Rights in America" 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.