Just when you thought the fight over redistricting in Texas was over, another legal battle is brewing. The activist group LULAC (League of United Latin American Citizens) has filed a complaint asking a federal court to decide that the new Texas voting maps can still be tossed out as violating the Voting Rights Act. The complaint comes just a week after the U.S. Supreme Court vacated the provision in the VRA that requires Texas and certain other states with a history of voting discrimination to get federal approval before changing their voting laws. "When we finished reading and analyzing (the ruling) thoroughly, we realized that the Supreme Court didn't wipe this out, they just told us now the courts have to decide that," says Luis Vera, General Counsel for LULAC.
Vera tells KTRH that while the Supreme Court struck down Section 4 of the VRA, they left in place Section 3(C). "They left power with the courts to determine if a jurisdiction should be ordered to pre-clear (with the federal government) if that jurisdiction had an established pattern of intentional discrimination," says Vera. "If there was ever a jurisdiction that was the poster boy for Section 3(C), it's the state of Texas." He cites the voting maps drawn up by Texas lawmakers in recent years as examples of the state still actively engaging in discrimination in voting.
For state officials, the issue over redistricting is largely over. During last month's special legislative session, lawmakers approved the maps that were used in last year's elections. Those maps were drawn up by a federal court in San Antonio after the court ruled the original maps drawn by lawmakers unfairly discriminated against minorities. Vera says the interim maps, while better than the original ones, were never intended to be a permanent solution and still have many problems. That is why his group is continuing to challenge the issue in court. And despite the Supreme Court's ruling, they still think the law is on their side. "While the state of Texas thought this was over and they had won after the (Voting Rights Act) ruling...surprise, surprise, they have not won," says Vera.