Those that were hoping that future Gonzales congressmen might come from a location closer than Corpus Christi were dealt a setback Monday morning as the U.S. Supreme Court decided there was no racial discrimination in the drawing of several Texas congressional districts after the 2010 Census.
In what is seen as a win for state Republicans, justices ruled 5-4 that several congressional districts in Texas — including Gonzales County's District 27 that stretches from Bastrop to Corpus Christi — was not drawn with racial bias in mind. The Texas Legislature meets after every census to redraw the congressional maps, and some groups had challenged that the wayward lines that made the borders of the far-flung districts were done to consolidate power to the GOP delegation in the state.
As explained in the Texas Tribune on Monday, the court's decision upheld 10 of 11 congressional and state House districts that opponents had said discriminated the voting power of Hispanic and black voters with the intention of keeping white incumbents in office. The only district to be classified as a “impermissible racial gerrymander” was House District 90 in Fort Worth, a sprawling, tentacled mass of a map.
The ruling keeps District 27 intact through the next round of redistricting. Civil rights groups, minority voters, and Democratic lawmakers had cried fowl on the district because of its reconfiguration that appeared to cut out Hispanic voters in Nueces County and added more white, rural areas that helped elect former Rep. Blake Farenthold to his now vacated seat.
Justice Samuel Alito wrote the winning opinion, saying that the Texas Legislature had a “sound basis” for sticking with re-drawn maps by a judicial panel in 2013, since it wasn't their fault for the judges' decisions.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote for the minority opinion, saying that “voters must return to the polls in 2018 and 2020 with the knowledge that their ability to exercise meaningfully their right to vote has been burdened by the manipulation of district lines specifically designed to target their communities and minimize their political will. The fundamental right to vote is too precious to be disregarded in this manner.”
The next U.S. Census will occur in 2020. The Texas Legislature should take up the next round of redistricting in 2021.