Texas has four new congressional seats in the House of Representatives, thanks in great part to the Latino community. However, these new lawmakers won’t necessarily represent the interests of Latino voters.
This resulted from a recently U.S. Supreme Court decision on Texas redistricting. Given the absence of a map with new districts, this decision also creates uncertainty about the date for legislative elections and prolongs the state’s dark history of negatively affecting minority voters.
In principle, the Republican-dominated Texas Legislature carried out the redistricting according to the law, although it did so in a clearly partisan manner, ignoring the community that provided the new seats. This was because the vote of ethnic or racial minorities was associated with the Democratic vote. The redistricting proposal was presented to a federal judicial panel that rejected it, pointing to allegations that Texas had intended to discriminate when drawing the maps.
Therefore, another judicial panel, in this case in San Antonio, developed a new temporary map using the latest federally approved map. This process favored the creation of minority districts, as instructed by federal voting rights laws. The Supreme Court rejected these maps because they did not use the Legislature’s maps as their starting point-the same maps that a lower court had previously considered defective.
In this confusion of maps and judges, it is particularly worrisome that the high court criticized the map that came out of San Antonio because it was deemed to be too favorable to minorities and against the Legislature’s interests.
Texas has no guidelines to follow other than federal law when it comes to redistricting-that is why the political manipulation of election districts is so shameless. California has been through this experience and changed its system so citizens rather than lawmakers are the ones who draw the new districts.
The Supreme Court’s decision is disappointing because it rewards manipulation, which in turn disrespects the integrity of the census numbers and denies a part of the Latino community the political representation it deserves thanks to its demographics.