» Impact of congressional district ruling being assessed,
Court decision that voided 3 congressional districts had no fix.
State and federal officials on Monday were still assessing the impact of last week’s federal court ruling that invalidated three Texas congressional districts but included no order to fix the problem and provided no guidance on what to do next.
The 2-1 ruling said the districts, redrawn in 2011 by Republicans in the Texas Legislature, violated the U.S. Voting Rights Act by intentionally discriminating against Latino and black voters or, in the case of a district that includes Travis County, improperly using race to accomplish political goals.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton expressed confidence that Texas would prevail in the case but stopped short of saying he would ask the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the decision, issued about 10 p.m. Friday.
“Since this is an interim order that does not propose any relief, the state is evaluating its options, which may be imp a cted by any future court rulings,” said Kayleigh Lovvorn, a spokeswoman for the attorney general’s office.
The same three-judge panel has yet to rule on a similar challenge to maps that redrew 150 Texas House districts in 2011.
Paxton said Monday that the court erred by weighing the legality of maps drawn in 2011, which were never used in an election because they had been invalidated by the federal court. Instead, the Legislature in 2013 adopted an interim map that had been drawn by the court.
“The court was under a direct order from the Supreme Court to draw lawful districts. The adoption of those maps in 2013 mooted any issue with the 2011 maps,” Paxton said. “There are no lines to redraw.”
However, two of the three recently invalidated districts were unchanged from 2011 to 2013, including District 35, occupied by U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin, and District 27, held by U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Corpus Christi.
For the third district, the 2013 map made several changes in the San Antonio area to District 23, which stretches along the Mex-
ican border toward El Paso and is held by U.S. Rep. Will Hurd, R-Helotes.
Doggett said the Friday ruling repudiated the refusal by Texas Republicans “to treat Hispanics fairly.”
“Everyone loses when Republican gerrymandering makes elected officials less accessible and less accountable,” Doggett said Monday.
The redrawn districts broke Travis County, a Democratic stronghold, into five districts, four of which are represented by Republicans.
“Whatever the courts ultimately rule, I will file for re-election eight months from now,” Doggett said. “The court has required the creation of genuine Hispanic-influence districts, not crooked lines that are only designed to increase Republican domination and to unjustifiably slice and dice Travis County.”
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said Monday that the federal court erred by weighing the legality of district maps drawn in 2011.