Editor’s note: there was breaking news today in redistricting, and as usual, there’s nobody better to explain it than our favorite redistricting expert Russ Tidwell:
By Russ Tidwell
While minority plaintiffs in Texas are awaiting a decision for the Three Judge Federal Panel in San Antonio regarding State House and Congressional redistricting, a new ruling out of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in a North Carolina (Appeal: 14-1329) reinforces one of the major claims made in Texas.
Texas Plaintiffs have provided evidence at trial of various claims such as intentional discrimination, vote dilution, racial gerrymandering, etc.
One specific claim advanced by the Perez Plaintiffs in Texas is based on a fairly recent case, Cox v. Larios (summarily affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court).
In simple terms, the court held that while states can usually vary the size of districts by as much as ten percent, they cannot use that population deviation for nefarious purposes.
A state can use this deviation, for example, in a State House plan to keep counties whole. However, they cannot use such a deviation to advantage one group of voters over another (i.e. Republicans over Democrats or Anglos over minorities).
The Perez Plaintiffs presented substantial evidence of such misuse in the major urban counties of Texas.
Now, an Appellate Panel of the Fourth Circuit has ruled with minority plaintiffs in North Carolina based on the Cox v. Larios case with a set of facts similar to the claims in Texas.
This is significant, since Larios is a fairly recent decision and is only beginning to build a string of case law.
The San Antonio Court is expected to rule soon if they are to meet a timeline to change districts before the December candidate filing deadline for the 2016 elections.