Supreme Court Hears Argument in Ongoing MALDEF Battle for Fair District Lines in Texas
Trial Begins Next Week in Related Case in DC Federal Court
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the United States Supreme Court heard oral argument in Perez v. Perry regarding the Texas congressional, senate and house redistricting plans. The case challenges redistricting plans that discriminate against Latino voters.
MALDEF Vice President of Litigation Nina Perales and Lead Counsel Jose Garza led the presentation of evidence at trial and represent, respectively, the Texas Latino Redistricting Task Force and the Mexican American Legislative Caucus (MALC) in the case.
Beyond the work on Perez v. Perry, MALDEF and MALC have also litigated for Latino voters in Texas v. U.S., a lawsuit brought by Texas in the federal court in Washington, DC, to get federal preclearance under section 5 of the Voting Rights Act for the Texas congressional and state house redistricting plans. In the trial of Texas v. U.S., which is scheduled to start January 17, 2012, MALDEF will present evidence before a three-judge panel of federal judges in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. MALDEF will seek to demonstrate that the State of Texas discriminated against Latino voters in its redistricting plans through the creation of maps that had a retrogressive effect on Latinos’ ability to elect the candidate of their choice and that were enacted with a discriminatory purpose. Closing arguments are scheduled for February 3, 2012.
Perales stated, "In every round of redistricting since 1972, Texas has been blocked from discriminating against Latino voters by either the U.S. Justice Department or federal courts. Today we are fighting to preserve the vitality of the Voting Rights Act and protect Texans from the State's latest attempt to dilute Latino voting strength."
Lydia Camarillo, Vice President of Southwest Voter Registration Education Project and Co-Chair of the Texas Latino Redistricting Task Force, said, "The Latino Community is fighting through the lawsuit to make sure they have the right and voice to elect candidates of their choice at the congressional and State levels. We are optimistic that the Supreme Court will follow the Federal Voting Rights Act and allow the San Antonio federal court to implement fair maps for the 2012 election."
Domingo Garcia, Former Dallas Mayor Pro Tem and Co-Chair of the Texas Latino Redistricting Task Force, stated, "This is one of the most crucial cases involving voting rights for Latinos in the last decade. It is important that Section 5 of the Federal Voting Rights Act continue to protect Latino districts that are gerrymandered and cracked. A court victory would send a strong message to Texas and other states that discrimination is no longer tolerable in 2012."
The 2010 Census showed that Latinos accounted for 65% of the population growth in Texas, and that Latinos are largely responsible for Texas gaining 4 additional congressional seats. MALDEF and the Texas Latino Redistricting Task Force have been at the forefront of this fight to ensure that the political strength of Latinos is accurately reflected in the new redistricting plans. MALDEF successfully litigated on behalf of the Texas Latino Redistricting Task Force before a federal three-judge panel in San Antonio; the interim court-drawn maps more fairly reflect Latino political strength than the maps previously drawn by the Texas State Legislature. The interim maps drawn by the federal panel provide fair representation for the people of Texas, and they were a necessary response to the Texas State Legislature's failure to secure the pre-approval of its maps that is required by the Voting Rights Act.
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.
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