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Voting Rights Act Goes to Court

September hearing set in San Antonio

By Lee Nichols, Fri., July 15, 2011

Opponents of the Texas Legislature's (read: Texas Republicans') redistricting plans swore they'd take the maps to court, and so they did: On Sept. 6, a three-judge panel will hold a hearing combining multiple lawsuits in San Antonio. Included are suits from Houston state Rep. Harold Dutton and some private citizens, the Mexican American Legislative Caucus, and the Texas Latino Redistricting Task Force. Plaintiffs allege that the various maps for the House, Senate, and Congress violate the Voting Rights Act by diminishing the ability of minorities to elect representatives of their choosing despite the fact that minorities – especially Hispanics – overwhelmingly drove Texas' population growth over the past decade. "We are confident a fair and legal plan will provide additional legislative and congressional seats for Latinos and African Americans and give Democrats a reasonable opportunity to compete and win in districts drawn to follow the Voting Rights Act," said Texas Democratic Party Chair Boyd Richie in an email. The hearing is of particular importance to Austinites – Travis County was split five ways in a GOP effort to knock liberal U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett from office. None of the districts has Travis County as a majority of its population.

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