Court finds more racial gerrymandering in Texas voting maps

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The latest 2-to-1 ruling by a federal panel in San Antonio found that Texas meant to weaken the influence of minorities by "wasting Latino votes".

"Discussions among mapdrawers demonstrated a hostility to creating any new minority districts, as those were seen to be a loss of Republican seats, despite the massive minority population growth statewide", the ruling said.

But, like the prior ruling, the federal court didn't mandate any remedies or discuss how to correct the problems in Thursday's opinion. Two of the three judges on the panel concluded that state lawmakers' actions violated the both the Voting Rights Act and the U.S. Constitution.

In using race to configure House districts, the judges said, Texas Republicans "turned the Voting Rights Act on its head".

"Plaintiffs will ... discuss next steps in ensuring that these violations are corrected before the 2018 elections", said Allison Riggs, a lawyer with the Southern Coalition for Social Justice.

Democrats immediately pressed Republican legislative leaders to allow new maps to be drawn.

"This is yet another example of political discrimination by the State of Texas against minority voters", said Dallas Democratic state Rep. Rafael Anchia, chairman of the Mexican American Legislative Caucus, which is a plaintiff in the case. "This is shameful and unacceptable". "As 5th Circuit Judge Jerry Smith observed in his dissent, the challenge to the old 2011 maps are not only moot but 'a finding that racial considerations were dominant and controlling defies everything about this record, '" Paxton said in a statement. Thursday, a different panel ruled by the same 2-1 margin that Texas' House map does the same. "We are confident we will ultimately prevail in this case".

Earlier this month, a federal judge based in Corpus Christi found for a second time that lawmakers intentionally discriminated against minority voters with a law requiring an approved photo ID at the polls.

The latest 2-1 ruling by federal panel in San Antonio found that Texas tried intentionally weakening the influence of minorities by "wasting Latino votes" around Dallas, Houston and other areas across the state. The decision-issued in a 171-page ruling-becomes the latest in a string of judicial defeats for Texas Republicans, who in March saw a similar decision from the same panel of judges.