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Texas Voting Rights Case Threatens to Disenfranchise Black and Latino Communities

Texas Redistricting Case Poses Threat to Black and Latino Voters' Representation

In a critical test of the already fragile Voting Rights Act, the conservative-leaning 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals has heard arguments in a case that could further erode the landmark legislation.

The case, Petteway v Galveston County, revolves around electoral maps in Galveston, Texas, and the right of minority voters to form “coalition districts” to elect representatives of their choice.

A federal district judge had previously ruled that the new maps, drawn up by the Republican-controlled county, violated the Voting Rights Act by eliminating the only district where African American and Latino voters held a collective majority.

The 5th Circuit, with six judges appointed by Donald Trump, heard passionate arguments from both sides. Chad Dunn, representing the Black and Latino voters, emphasized the importance of preserving their electoral voice, asking, “Is it too much to ask for one seat at the table?”

– Texas Voting Rights Case Has Far-Reaching Implications for Minority Representation

He stressed that allowing minority groups to form coalitions is crucial, as it enables them to elect representatives who understand their experiences and concerns.

The stakes are high, as the Voting Rights Act has already been significantly weakened by the Supreme Court’s 2013 ruling in Shelby County v Holder, which removed the “pre-clearance” requirement for electoral changes in certain jurisdictions.

If the 5th Circuit rules in favor of Galveston County, it could further dismantle the remaining provisions of the act, specifically Section 2, which protects minority voters’ rights.

Joseph Nixon, representing the county, argued that the Voting Rights Act does not explicitly mention coalitions of different minority voters and that such alliances are political, not racial, in nature.

Dunn countered that African American and Latino voters in Galveston County share similar voting patterns and that recognizing coalition districts has been settled law for 40 years.

He invoked the principle of stare decisis, emphasizing the importance of respecting earlier precedents. The outcome of this case will have significant implications for the future of voting rights and representation in the United States.

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