So mere hours after the Supreme Court struck down Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, Texas wasted no more time and re-instituted the same redistricting plan the courts had already ruled as unconstitutional. The same with their new voter suppression bill.
Attorney General Holder was having none of it, however. Texas was the first lawsuit to be filed by the Justice Department under Section 2 of the Voting Right Act.
And now Texas is presenting its defense. It is using two main arguments.
And boy, are they doozies.
Jump below the Chee-to for more:
First, says Attorney General Greg Abbott, the redistricting is not about race. Oh no. It's about not allowing DEMOCRATS to vote. White Democrats too.
From their brief:
DOJ’s accusations of racial discrimination are baseless. In 2011, both houses of the Texas Legislature were controlled by large Republican majorities, and their redistricting decisions were designed to increase the Republican Party’s electoral prospects at the expense of the Democrats....The redistricting decisions of which DOJ complains were motivated by partisan rather than racial considerations, and the plaintiffs and DOJ have zero evidence to prove the contrary. It is perfectly constitutional for a Republican-controlled legislature to make partisan districting decisions, even if there are incidental effects on minority voters who support Democratic candidates.Translation:
"So, basically, we just want to fuck over all Democrats, and if the Black and Brown people are also hurt, well, they shouldn't vote for Democrats, should they? It's only collateral damage"
You know, having them actually come right out and say it--that they don't want Democrats to vote--is somehow not surprising. But it's good that they're doing it at last.
But wait! There's more. To address the actual accusations of racial bias and discrimination, Texas is using the argument that "Yeah, there may be an isolated incident or two, but it's NOTHING like it was in 1965".
From the article, which says it better than I can:
Furthermore, the state claims, even if Texas did discriminate, and the state stresses that it did not, it was nothing as bad as “the ‘pervasive,’ ‘flagrant,’ ‘widespread,’ and ‘rampant’ discrimination that originally justified preclearance in 1965.” So as long as Texas skies aren’t alight with flames from burning crosses, what’s the big whoop?So, according to this, Texas is arguing that Section 2, and in fact the entire reasons for preclearance are all based on conditions in 1965. And that since "things are better than in 1965" then Section 2 is null and void.
I think the fact that Texas is second only to Mississippi in Section 2 lawsuits is the basis for this particular argument.
However, there is a danger here. Texas is arguing that ONLY conditions that existed in 1965 would justify Federal supervision of the elections process. Sort of like an "originalism to the extreme" argument.
And that can be dangerous because there are those on the Supreme Court that would like nothing more than the total eradication of the Voting Rights Act.
Not to mention the 13th 14th and 15th Amendments, but that's another story.