The 2011 Documents That Reveal Texas’ Attempts to Marginalize Minority Voters
In one email, a lawyer for Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) said that the Republican wanted to move a white neighborhood near the San Antonio Country Club from a Hispanic congressional district into his own congressional district, in order to make the Democratic-leaning district less white.
In response, a Republican staffer for Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) warned in a private email that the gerrymandered map “has next to no chance of pre-clearance.”
At the time, Republican state Rep. Beverly Woolley, a leader of the redistricting efforts in Harris County, told a group of minority representatives, “[Y]ou all are protected by the Voting Rights Act and we are not. … We don’t want to lose these people due to population growth in the county, or we won’t have any districts left.”
In a separate instance, one Republican congressman told another that he needed “more Mexicans in [his] district” but not from areas where Latinos were politically active.
The Justice Department argued at the time that the emails left little doubt that “racial as well as political data were most accurately driving the line drawing.”
The evidence was enough for a three-judge panel on the D.C. court to deny pre-clearance and conclude that the new map was drawn with “discriminatory purposes.” The court said the new district lines removed the “economic guts” from African-American districts but performed “no such surgery” on regions represented by white lawmakers.
“Anglo district boundaries were redrawn to include particular country clubs and, in one case, the school belonging to the incumbent’s grandchildren,” wrote Judge Thomas Griffith for the court. “The only explanation Texas offers for this pattern is ‘coincidence.’ But if this was coincidence, it was a striking one indeed.”