The Dallas Fort-Worth Star Telegram reports that there are now three suits pending against the re-redistricting plan:
The American GI Forum, a non-profit organization that promotes Hispanic issues, filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday to block the new congressional redistricting plan from being used in the 2004 election.
The lawsuit filed at the federal courthouse in Victoria is the third action taken this week to derail the redistricting plan signed into law by Gov. Rick Perry on Monday. The lawsuit alleges that the plan would undermine Hispanic voting rights in Texas.
"The newly enacted congressional redistricting plan for Texas does not accurately reflect Latino voting strength in the year 2003," said Nina Perales, an attorney for the Mexican-American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, which is representing the GI Forum.
"Although the new redistricting plan purports to create an additional Latino majority district in South Texas, in fact it eliminates one district and adds another, with no net increase in electoral opportunity."
The GI Forum suit is similar to two other federal court actions filed by Democrats in East Texas against the redistricting the plan enacted by the Republican-dominated Legislature over the weekend.
Meanwhile, Denton lawyer Richard Gladden filed a federal lawsuit in the eastern district on behalf of several residents of Cherokee County, challenging the Legislature's ability to take up redistricting in mid-decade.
"It is our contention that congressional redistricting should take place no more than once after each census," Gladden said. "And in this case, that one time occurred when the three federal judges drew the plan we have now in 2001."
Lest you think these are alls peas in the same pod, take a look at this from the Dallas Morning News:
The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, in a suit on behalf of the American G.I. Forum of Texas, said the remap effort unfairly diminishes Hispanic voting strength. It said the new configuration should have carved out a winnable congressional district for Hispanics in Dallas, plus one more in South Texas.
"Latinos now are more numerous than blacks or whites in Dallas," said Nina Perales, regional counsel for MALDEF and the lead lawyer for the G.I. Forum, a group of Mexican-American veterans. "We are the plurality population, but we don't have a congressional district."
Both Ms. Perales and senior Democrats in the state's congressional delegation said Republicans who drew the new map improperly shifted minority voters who now control the district represented by Rep. Martin Frost, D-Arlington, into neighboring districts where they will have little impact on the outcome.
In addition, the Democrats and MALDEF cited another flaw in the Republican-backed redistricting plan – counting as a Hispanic seat the one held by Rep. Henry Bonilla, R-San Antonio, whose new district would be controlled by whites.
"It was an incumbency concern because Henry Bonilla is increasingly fragile in a district that's increasingly Latino," Ms. Perales said.
She broke ranks with Democrats, however, in applauding the new map's reduction of Hispanic population in the South Texas districts of Reps. Ruben Hinojosa, D-Mercedes; Solomon Ortiz, D-Corpus Christi, and Ciro Rodriguez, D-San Antonio.
Last week, Mr. Frost said having fewer Hispanics in the three districts put them "at risk" of being lost to a nonminority candidate.
But Ms. Perales said "those districts are packed right now, the way the Democrats like them. We'd like to unpack them so we can have a seventh, effective Latino district in South Texas. That was our position in 2001, and that's still our position."
If anyone has a copy of the Denton suit, email it to me or email me for instructions on where to fax it. The email address is in the upper right corner of the page.