Gerrymandering is a term used to describe what happens after every census in the United States whereby some congressional districts are redrawn based on changes in the country's population. The last census stipulates that there should be one representative for about every 711, 000 people. Elected officials employ partisan political operatives to conduct the process that involves some complicated geography and math in many states; a process that is sometimes unfair. The state of Texas is in the midst of a long-lasting racial gerrymandering case to do with the legitimacy of its electoral maps. Civil rights groups and minority lawmakers claim that these maps restrict the voting power of Hispanics and African-Americans. In September 2017, the Supreme Court squashed a ruling by a lower court that ordered the state to redraw state house and congressional maps. This essay looks at gerrymandering in Texas, the various viewpoints of the parties who are for and against it, and a conclusion based on an analysis of the issue.
The above-mentioned case is just the latest episode of the years-long narrative of gerrymandering in Texas. Voting rights activists have for a long time accused the states Republicans of trying to undermine the rising political clout of African American and Hispanic voters. They do this by purposefully and unfairly stuffing them into districts or dividing them up in a way that they are outnumbered. Republican legislators make up about two-thirds of the Senate, State House, and Congressional seats. The cases started in 2011 after new congressional and state boundaries were mapped out by the Texas Legislature. The state was forced to re-map because it got an additional four seats in congress after the 2010 census that showed a significant increase in population. Most of this increment stemmed from a huge flooding of blacks and Latinos.
From 2000 up to 2010, the number of Hispanics living in Texas increased by almost 3 million. Non-Latino whites now make up less than 43% of the states population, with Houston being the most ethnically and racially diverse city in the country. The states officials had to delay primary races during the 2012 elections following a lawsuit filed by civil rights groups challenging the re-mapping. Since then, Texas has been using temporary court-ordered maps set up in 2013. In two rulings made earlier in 2017, a panel of federal judges did decided that these maps were a violation of federal laws. In March, the panel ruled that Texas lawmakers created three United States congressional districts with the intention of undermining the influence of Latino voters. The judges stated that legislators were hostile to minority districts and showed a willingness to engage in racism for partisan advantage. The following month, they found out that legislators re-mapped State House districts to purposefully weaken the power of minority voters in several counties across Texas.
Lawyers representing the plaintiffs argue that the maps plotted in 2013 should be revoked because they include parts of the 2011 maps found by the court to violate the Fourteenth Amendment or the Voting Rights Act. on the other hand, those representing the state say there is no proof that Texas lawmakers purposefully discriminated in racial terms.
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