Texas Redistricting Cases: League of United Latin American Citizens v. Perry, Travis County Texas v. Perry, Jackson v. Perry, and GI Forum of Texas v. Perry (consolidated)
In 2003, various voters, the GI Forum, and the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) challenged the Texas congressional redistricting set forth in Plan 1374C, enacted into law by the Texas Legislature on October 12, 2003, and precleared by the Department of Justice on December 19, 2003. Plaintiffs collectively alleged that Plan 1374C is invalid because (1) Texas may not redistrict mid-decade; (2) the Plan unconstitutionally discriminates on the basis of race; (3) the Plan is an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander; and (4) various districts in Plan 1374C dilute the voting strength of minorities in violation of § 2 of the Voting Rights Act. A three judge panel of the district court upheld the Plan, finding that it did not violate the United States Constitution, complied with § 2 of the Voting Rights Act, and that the Texas Legislature has the authority to draw new districts after a federal court drew them following the 2000 census.
While an appeal was pending in the United States Supreme Court, the Court issued an opinion in Vieth v. Jubelirer. Vieth involved a challenge to a Pennsylvania redistricting plan that allegedly violated the one-person, one-vote requirement of Article One of the Constitution. A divided Court ruled that the Pennsylvania plan did not violate the Constitution. Justice Kennedy, the deciding vote, found that the Court could hear partisan gerrymandering cases (four Justices believed that the cases were non-justiciable), but rejecting the stronger tests for judging partisan gerrymandering urged by the four justices in the minority. Justice Kennedy left open the possibility that the Court could yet develop a manageable test for determining impermissible gerrymandering. The Court remanded the Texas redistricting cases to the three judge panel for reconsideration in light of Vieth.
On remand, the three-judge panel affirmed its earlier decision, concluding that the Texas Plan was not substantively unfair, and did not violate the one-person, one-vote principle or § 2 of the Voting Rights Act.
League of United Latin American Citizens v. Perry:
1. Does it violate one-person, one-vote standards for a state to use out-of-date Census data for redistricting, when the entire purpose of the new boundary-drawing is to gain partisan advantage, resulting in a partisan gerrymander?
2. Is proof of voting along racial lines overcome by evidence of partisan affiliation of black or Hispanic voters in analyzing a claim that minority votes have been diluted under the Voting Rights Act?
Travis County Texas v. Perry:
1. Does Texas' 2003 congressional redistricting plan, replacing a valid court-ordered plan, satisfy one-person, one-vote principles, when the redisricting was done to gain partisan advantage and used 2000 Census data?
Jackson v. Perry:
1. Is it unconstitutional, under equal protection and the First Amendment, for a state to redraw lawful districting plans in the middle of the decade, for the sole purpose of partisan gain?
2. Does the Voting Rights Act's Section 2 allow a state to destroy a district that black voters effectively controlled, merely because it is impossible to draw a district in which blacks have an absolute population majority?
3. Under redistricting principles, according to Bush v. Vera (1996), is it unconstitutional to create a bizarre-shaped congressional district with the aim of linking two Latino-majority districts separated by a 300-mile "land bridge," simply to avoid a racial gerrymander claim, when the new district was crafted in order to promote the goal of maximizing partisan advantage?
GI Forum of Texas v. Perry:
1. Is political partisanship a sufficient justification, under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act of the Constitution, for dismantling a Latino-majority congressional district so as to elect a preferred Anglo candidate?
2. Does Section 2 permit a state to eliminate a district with a black or Hispanic majority in one area of the state and create another such district elsewhere in the state?
3. Did the District Court here err by requiring that districts, to satisfy Section 2, must be more compact and offer more chances for minority-preferred candidates to win than would be the case under the challenged plan?
4. Does the number of districts that can be created with a majority of black or Hispanic voters set a ceiling on the total number that may be drawn in order to be proportional under Johnson v. DeGrandy?
Jenner & Block's Texas Redistricting Cases Resource Center