» Im­pact of con­gres­sional dis­trict rul­ing be­ing as­sessed,

Court de­ci­sion that voided 3 con­gres­sional dis­tricts had no fix.

Austin American-Statesman - - FRONT PAGE - By Chuck Lin­dell clin­dell@states­man.com

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.”

JAY JAN­NER / AMER­I­CAN-STATES­MAN 2016

Texas At­tor­ney Gen­eral Ken Pax­ton said Monday that the fed­eral court erred by weigh­ing the le­gal­ity of dis­trict maps drawn in 2011.

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