First challenge to Texas political maps heard by federal court

First challenge to Texas political maps heard by federal court

Isabel Webb Carey
Isabel Webb Carey
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January 26, 2022

A federal court heard the first challenge to Texas’ GOP-drawn political maps yesterday from two local elected officials from Tarrant County who testified that new maps will dilute the voting power of minority voters in North Texas.

Following the 2020 U.S. Census and subsequent redistricting process, the state of Texas and Gov. Greg Abbott are facing several challenges over the newly redrawn political maps. Among them, Democrat Beverly Powell—who currently represents Fort Worth’s state Senate District 10—filed a lawsuit In early November alongside six Tarrant County residents in which they challenged the boundaries for their district.

“In each decennial redistricting cycle in modern history, Texas has enacted plans that federal courts have ruled to be racially discriminatory in intent and/or effect. Like clockwork, Texas has done so again,” the lawsuit asserts. “Remarkably, Texas has enacted the same racially discriminatory scheme to dismantle Senate District 10.”

During Tuesday’s hearing held in El Paso, Tarrant County Justice of the Peace Sergio Leon and County Commissioner Charles Brooks testified that the new map purposely dilutes the voting strength of minorities. 

Although the recent hearing pertains to only one state senate district, attorneys say it could be a preview of what’s to come in the larger legal battle facing the state’s controversial new political boundaries. A slew of other lawsuits filed last year are expected to hit the courts from individuals and organizations including the League of United Latin American Citizens, Southwest Voter Registration Education Project, the Mexican American Legislative Caucus, and La Union del Pueblo Entero, among others. Separately, the Biden administration’s Department of Justice filed an additional lawsuit in December.

Attorney Mark P. Gaber, who represents Powell and the other plaintiffs, said their case is scheduled ahead of the others this fall because they asked the judge to make a decision in time for the November 2022 General Election.

Federal Judges David Guaderrama, Jerry E. Smith and Jeffrey V. Brown are the three judges presiding over the case. 

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Isabel Webb Carey

Isabel Webb Carey

Isabel Webb Carey attends the University of Texas at Austin in the Plan II Honors Program with a certificate in Core Texts and Ideas. Her interests include education, local governance, sustainability, and equity. Isabel enjoys dancing, hiking, and live music. She is also a staff writer for the Texas Orator. Email her at isabelwebbcarey@gmail.com
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