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Texas Democrats join federal redistricting case

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August 19, 2011

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By Jimmy Ardis

AUSTIN, Texas: A federal judge ruled on Tuesday that State Representative Marc Veasey (D) and State Senator Wendy Davis (D) would be allowed to join Texas's court case seeking Voting Rights Act clearance for the state's redistricting plans. Veasey and Davis filed a motion to join the case days after Texas submitted its redistricting plans to the federal three-judge panel for pre-clearance review.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott submitted Texas's four redistricting maps to a panel of three federal judges in Washington DC on July 19th. Political tension between Texas and the Obama administration's DOJ led state leaders to attempt to circumvent the traditional route during the 2011 cycle.

The Attorney General's office filed a brief in the US District Court of the District of Columbia on August 3rd, arguing against the attempt of two Democratic legislators at joining the federal case over Texas's pre-clearance. Lawyers for the state argued at the time that the Democratic lawmakers "don't have standing to join the federal case and shouldn't be allowed to because their concerns are represented in redistricting lawsuits that have already been filed in Texas."[1] The federal judge reviewing the motions sided with Democratic lawmakers, allowing them a place at the table.

Veasey and Davis join the case with three local Texas residents who argue the Republican-drawn redistricting maps illegally dilute minority voting power. Upon notification of the judges decision Senator Davis commented ""This early victory gives Tarrant County voters a strong voice in this process and points to the likelihood that new boundaries for Senate District 10 will eventually be ordered. I am proud to stand with North Texans fighting these illegal maps and I'm confident that a fair and thorough review of the maps will restore the voting rights that were trampled upon during the overtly partisan and discriminatory redistricting process in the Legislature."[2]

Following the Democratic legislators' success, the Mexican American Legislative Caucus filed a similar motion with the three-judge panel on Wednesday, asking to join the fight.[3]

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