U.S. court strikes down two
Republican-drawn Texas congressional districts
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[August 16, 2017]
By Jon Herskovitz
AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - A U.S. court
struck down two Republican-drawn U.S. congressional districts in Texas
on Tuesday, saying they were discriminatory and ordering a remedy ahead
of elections in 2018, court papers showed.
In the case that has been contested in federal courts for about six
years, a three-judge panel at U.S. District Court in San Antonio ruled
lawmakers drew up the districts to undermine the influence of racial
minority voters, who plaintiffs argued typically show more support for
Democrats than Republicans.
The court also said that the maps laying them out must either be fixed
by the state or the courts.
The court said the 27th and 35th congressional districts were drawn in
violation of the U.S. Voting Rights Act. Texas has 36 districts, with
Republicans holding 25 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and
The court also faulted the state's legislature for not heeding previous
judicial plans and for making inadequate fixes to the maps drawn in
"The discriminatory taint was not removed by the Legislatureís enactment
of the Courtís interim plans," the judges said in their decision.
Texas Democrats saw the decision as a victory.
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"Republicans initiated a deceitful legal strategy to deliberately
silence Texans from having a voice in their own government. Today,
the Court unanimously agreed," Texas Democratic Party Chair Gilberto
Hinojosa said in a statement.
Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said the court did rule
in Texas' favor in finding that one contested district, District 23,
However, Paxton said in a statement the state has been abiding by
the law and prior court guidance and he intended to ask the U.S.
Supreme Court whether Texas "had discriminatory intent when relying
on the district court."
In court, lawyers for Texas argued that the boundaries were drawn
for Republican partisan advantage, which they said is legal. They
dismissed claims the districts were drawn illegally with the
intention to disenfranchise racial and ethnic groups.
(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Tom Brown and Diane Craft)
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