City Doesn’t Have to Add Council Seats, Court Says

     (CN) – Houston did not violate its redistricting rules when it declined to add more council seats during the 2009 city elections, despite an increase in the city’s population, the 5th Circuit ruled.

     A group of minority voters called for a new election, but the 5th Circuit rejected the appeal, upholding a federal judge’s ruling that the voters’ claims were frivolous.
     “We conclude that appellants’ claims are not justiciable, because they are, respectively, moot and not ripe,” Judge Edith Brown Clement wrote for the three-judge panel.
     The voters said a state study showed an increase in excess of the 2.1 million people needed to add two council seats, and that the city relied on a nearly decade-old census tally prior to elections.
     But Clement said the voters “made no claim of the kind of egregious or invidious discrimination that would make invalidation of the 2009 election an appropriate remedy.”
     The judge said the city had stated its intention to use a 2010 census count ahead of the 2011 elections, and that the voters did not show “that there is a reasonable expectation that the city will choose to violate its charter.”
     “At some point in the future, if the city persists in relying on census data that has become outdated and refuses to redraw districts mid-decade, appellants may be able to allege a non-frivolous claim that is ripe, and because it is capable of repetition, yet evading review, also escapes the trap of becoming moot after each passing city council election,” the judge concluded.

%d bloggers like this: