WASHINGTON — A federal court has rejected a redistricting scheme by the U.S. state of Texas, saying it was enacted with “discriminatory intent” toward ethnic minorities. The decision, released late Tuesday, comes as a blow to Republican governor Rick Perry ahead of the Nov. 6 elections. At stake is the electoral representation of blacks and Hispanics who make up the majority of the state’s 4 million new residents according to the 2010 census. The increase in population provided Texas with four additional seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, and the redistricting that followed in its wake favored Republicans. However, since Texas has a history of racial discrimination, the revised political boundaries had to be approved at the federal level. In an opinion obtained by AFP, a three-judge panel of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia wrote it was “persuaded by the totality of the evidence that the plan was enacted with discriminatory intent.” “We are likewise troubled by the unchallenged evidence that the legislature removed the economic guts from the Black ability districts,” it added. The judges concluded that Texas had “not met its burden to show that the U.S. Congressional and State House Plans will not have a retrogressive effect.” Texas had requested to use the revised maps for the November elections but will now resort to interim ones drawn up by another panel in San Antonio. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbot announced his intent to appeal Tuesday’s decision, saying it extended the Voting Rights Act “beyond the limits intended by Congress and beyond the boundaries imposed by the Constitution. “The Attorney General’s Office will continue defending the maps enacted by the Texas Legislature and will immediately take steps to appeal this flawed decision to the U.S. Supreme Court,” he said in a statement.
The Lone Star State has voted Republican for 30 years. The Obama administration has suspended a Texas law that requires voters to provide photo identification in order to cast a ballot, saying it promotes racial bias.