Austin Sues Texas Over Congressional Districts

     AUSTIN (CN) – Austin, Travis County and voters say the Texas Legislature violated the Constitution when it adjourned sine die without redrawing the lines for Texas congressional districts.

     The plaintiffs say the districts are unfairly drawn because of population shifts of the past decade.
     Several previous complaints this spring have claimed that Texas’ districts disenfranchise Latino voters, particularly along the Mexican border.
     In the latest case, lead plaintiff Eddie Rodriguez says the malapportioned congressional districts will dilute the voting strength of the plaintiffs in six congressional districts: 10, 16, 18, 20, 21, and 25.
     They say four new congressional seats should be added based on the 2010 census.
     The current districts were approved by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2006 – except for one gerrymandered snake that slithered more than 300 miles from the Mexican border to Austin. The 2003-2006 redistricting itself was controversial, as then-House Majority Leader Tom DeLay ordered it 7 years ahead of the customary time, with the clear intent to cement a Republican majority.
     The plaintiffs in this case say the state is using 2006 district maps based on the 2000 census, which will deny them equal representation. The state’s 32 congressional districts, as drawn, contain from 640,419 to 981,367 population apiece – a range of -8.4% to +40.5% from the ideal population per district of 698,488.
     Except for the four new districts, all of which contain zero voters.
     The plaintiffs say the districting violates the 14th and 15th Amendments.
     They want fair redistricting, based on the 2010 census, which “recognizes the growth of their populations over the last decade.”
Named as defendants are Gov. Rick Perry, Lt. Gov. Dewhurst, Speaker of the House Joe Straus, Secretary of State Hope Andrade, and the chairmen of the state’s Democratic and Republican Parties.
     They are represented by Renea Hicks, David Escamilla and Karen Kennard, all of Austin.
     Plaintiff Travis County includes the City of Austin, the state capital.

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