Federal court orders Texas voting map changes ahead of 2018

Central Texas Congressional Districts from the State of Texas.
Central Texas Congressional Districts from the State of Texas.

AUSTIN (AP/KXAN) — A federal court has ruled that Texas’ congressional maps are still flawed by racial gerrymandering and must be partially redrawn before the 2018 elections.

The decision Tuesday ordered changes to two of Texas’ 36 congressional districts. One is held by Democrat Lloyd Doggett of Austin and the other by Republican Blake Farenthold.

The ruling was not a complete victory for Democrats and minority rights groups that wanted more sweeping changes. The same three-judge panel in San Antonio had ruled earlier this year that Texas Republicans intentionally discriminated against minorities while drafting new maps in 2011.

Central Texas Congressional Districts from the State of Texas.

“What Republicans did was not just wrong, it was unconstitutional,” said Rep. Doggett in a statement. “Since the U.S. Supreme Court will have the final say, this extended struggle is not yet over. Unless the Supreme Court rules otherwise, I plan to seek reelection in the district that I currently represent. I will continue to remain fully accessible and accountable to my constituents in Bexar, Travis, Hays, Caldwell and the portions of the other counties that I serve.”

The court is giving Texas until the end of the week to decide whether to give its GOP-controlled Legislature the first crack at making the changes or handle the revisions in court.

Attorney General Ken Paxton said he was disappointed with a portion of the ruling.

“But the portion of the ruling that went against Texas is puzzling considering the Legislature adopted the congressional map the same court itself adopted in 2012, and the Obama-era Department of Justice did not bring any claims against the map,” Paxton said in a statement.

“Texas failed to act for too long,” said chairman of the Mexican American Legislative Caucus in a statement. “Thousands of Texans have cast their vote under unconstitutional maps. Partisan politics compromised our electoral maps, and as a result, every Texan lost.”

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