& Texas Redistricting assails Voting Rights Act
A Media Watch Report by Eddie Griffin
The conspiracy to retain political power by voter suppression cannot be summed up in a sentence of two. It takes observation over an extended period of time to discern the pattern and gather the proof.
Prelude: The Texas Attorney General seems insistent and in a hurry to implement a series of voter suppression laws, including a voter ID law, before the general election in 2012.
Texas attorney general asks federal court to OK voter ID law, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, January 24, 2012
Attorney General Greg Abbott asked a federal court Monday to clear the way for the state's voter ID law to go into effect without waiting for a Justice Department decision on whether the law discriminates against minorities.
The Obama administration is hostile to laws such as the one passed last year in Texas that require would-be voters to show an approved photo identification card before getting a ballot, Abbott said.
Abbott filed suit in a Washington court against U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and the Justice Department...
"Texas should be allowed the same authority other states have to protect the integrity of elections," Abbott said. "To fast-track that authority, Texas is taking legal action in a D.C. court seeking approval of its voter identification law."
[NOT SO FAST, Cowboy]
Minority groups have complained that the law is intended to discourage voting among the poor and elderly, who are less likely to have a driver's license. In 1965 Congress created the Voting Rights Act, and the section requiring Texas to seek pre-clearance for new election laws, because Texas and other Southern states enforced laws designed to keep minorities from voting.
NOTE: Herein is one in a pattern of voting suppression laws sweeping the nation. The excuse for passing voter identification laws is based upon false fear that, somehow, undocumented immigrants would illegally participate in the elections.
It smells, but it sells. And many states have implemented a rash of new laws like those in Texas, requiring additional proof of citizenship, such as driver’s licenses or pictured IDs.
Also, cropping up are new redistricting lines that disenfranchise minority communities that cannot muster passage under the 1965 Civil Rights Voting Rights Act.
Texas Attorney General Gregg Abbott is asking the courts, in both cases, to allow Texas to implement its rules in the interim, in time for the 2012 primaries; and then, if there are violations, let the courts sort it out later. By then, later would be too late.
The logic of this thinking would be like asking the courts to permit the rape, and then sort out the damage later, after the election, after elected parties are seated.
WOULD THE COURTS ALLOW HISTORY TO REPEAT ITSELF?
So far, neither the federal district court, nor the U.S. Supreme Court, have allowed the legislature’s plan to go forward, unchallenged and unabated And, the third court in the district of Washington, D.C. only agreed to hear the controversy because there was obviously something wrong with the legislature’s map, as drawn.
This legal challenge is currently going into its sixth day of hearings, as of this writing.
WHERE DO WE STAND NOW? SCOTUS threw out both district court proposed map and that of the legislature. The State of Texas would have opted for the Court to allow its map to serve as interim for the 2012 elections. But as it stands, there are no maps, no established districts, and no set primary date. Everything is still up in the air.
HOW DID WE GET HERE? By gerrymandering, this minority-majority district was stolen by hook and crook, at the hand of former GOP House leader Tom DeLay, who conspired and illegally laundered corporate money from one hand to hand, to be used to gain a majority in the House seats in the U.S. Congress. He was later convicted and imprisoned, but the ill-gotten gain was never recovered, and our district never rectified.
[Enclosed are attachments to the full reference transcripts. Below is a summary.]
Posted Saturday, Nov. 27, 2010, Fort Worth Star-Telegram
"This is an abuse of power," Tom DeLay said Wednesday after an Austin jury found him guilty of politically inspired money laundering and conspiracy to commit money laundering.
The former U.S. House majority leader and power broker from Sugar Land has maintained that the charges against him were politically motivated, and he vowed to continue fighting on appeal.
The verdict came more than five years after DeLay was indicted for his actions in helping the campaigns of seven Republicans running for the Texas House in 2002. Six of them were elected, helping the GOP achieve its first majority in that body since Reconstruction.
The Legislature, with DeLay's guidance, then pushed through a redistricting plan that helped Texas Republicans gain more seats in Congress.
Gerrymandering of voting districts for political advantage is wrong. It's distasteful. It's a deliberate distortion of the electoral process. But it is not illegal -- sadly, it's even expected as a way for the party in power to maintain or increase its power.
But the case against DeLay was not about redistricting. It was about money and the way he used money in the political process.
So when DeLay decried "the criminalization of politics" after the verdict came in, he was saying that it's wrong to accuse someone of a criminal act for doing something that's accepted in the world of politics.
NOTE: Translate “criminalization of politics” into a state’s right defense. In other words, though the gerrymandered districts were created by a crime, it could not be undone. Therefore, we had to live with the consequence. Even more, the State defends the ill-gotten gain in court.
In December 2005, the Washington Post reported, Justice Department lawyers concluded that the landmark Texas congressional redistricting plan spearheaded by Rep. Tom DeLay violated the Voting Rights Act, according to a previously undisclosed memo" uncovered by the newspaper. The document, endorsed by six Justice Department attorneys, said “the redistricting plan illegally diluted black and Hispanic voting power in two congressional districts.”
Posted Saturday, May 14, 2011, Fort Worth Star-Telegram Editorial
All it takes is a glance at the proposed redistricting map for the Texas Senate to know, especially as it pertains to Tarrant County, it is just plain wrong.
The 104,703 residents of southeast Fort Worth, Forest Hill and Everman, 78.2 percent of them black or Hispanic, would be pulled out of Sen. Wendy Davis' District 10 and moved to Sen. Brian Birdwell's 80.7 percent Anglo District 22, which extends south beyond Waco.
"What were they thinking?" jumps to mind. "How could they be so stupid? Isn't that a blatant violation of the Voting Rights Act, and won't the Justice Department or the courts throw this out immediately?"
But give it some time. Remember that the people who came up with this plan are definitely not stupid...
Anyone who watched the 2003 redistricting drama directed by then-U.S. House Majority Leader and now convicted felon Tom DeLay knows the people who do this sort of thing are both smart and crafty.
Republicans painted a target on Democrat Davis the moment she beat one of their valued insiders, 20-year legislator Kim Brimer, in the 2008 general election. Davis and everyone else who follows local politics knew that, this year, she would be hit with a redistricting blast that would make it very hard for her to win again.
That means separating her from the people who delivered the votes she needed to topple Brimer. And that would be the minority communities southeast of downtown and on the near north side.
NOTE: The minority communities southeast of downtown referenced above is us, the core community of U.S. District 33. It is the most focused upon district in the case that went before the Supreme Court and back to the District Court. It is this district that is the more likely to be successfully challenged against the state’s plan.
WHAT IS IMPORTANT about U.S. District 33? Property records dating back to the 1870s will show this area was owned and occupied by mostly African-Americans. It is the seat of the historic Colored Downtown area and just to the east was Cowanville, now Stop Six.
The north side portion of District 33 was occupied by Tejano Mexicans and Native Americans. In the 1870s, Fort Worth was still referred to a fort city, and many indigent people in the area and freedmen found refuge under the banner of federal Union troops.
But there has always been a reminisce of the Confederacy holding stronghold over minorities’ right to vote in the area, which was why blacks formed alliances with their brown, red, and white neighbors to elected representatives that best suited their collective interest. But increasingly dividing this political districts into smaller and smaller pieces, Tom DeLay succeeded into splitting the community into Five Easy Pieces scattered all over creation.
Posted Saturday, May 14, 2011, Fort Worth Star-Telegram Editorial
The new map shows the southeast's black neighborhoods going to Birdwell and the north side Hispanic areas going to District 12, represented by Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound. Davis is left with a district that is even more white and Republican.
"Partisan greed," she says of the plan, promising a court battle.
But it's not about her, she says. It's about "the human impact of the decisions being made." Fort Worth's minority neighborhoods "will no longer have the opportunity to elect someone who will be that voice for them."
She's right: It is all about the voters. And those minority neighborhoods would be swallowed up and outnumbered by rural Republicans.
The Voting Rights Act is harsh on discrimination by redistricting, but standards of proof are high, or at best hard to pin down.
Davis will have to show that minority groups in her district are large and geographically compact, that they are politically cohesive and vote as a bloc, and that Anglos vote in a bloc in numbers high enough that they usually defeat minorities.
Having only been elected in District 10 once, a narrow victory amid heavy turnout for Democrat Barack Obama's presidential bid, she has no history there to fall back on.
She'll have to show how a new, compact district could be drawn with new population numbers.
There's a long road ahead for this redistricting plan. It will be a difficult one for Davis, and whether she's right at first glance won't really matter once the court fight begins.
Posted Wednesday, Jan. 04, 2012
BY LINDA P. CAMPBELL
Texas' Republican leaders dislike the Voting Rights Act.
No revelation there.
Republicans also supposedly despise having unelected "activist" judges supersede the will of elected representatives.
Heard that broken record.
But if the state's lawyers could entice the Supreme Court to use Texas redistricting as a tool for smacking down Section 5 of the act before the 2012 elections?
Read more… http://www.star-telegram.com/2012/01/04/3635125/texas-redistricting-brief-argues.html
COMMENTARY by Eddie Griffin
The Texas AG Gregg Abbott is not satisfied having the state locked up in three difference sets of courts. Now he goes after U.S. AG Eric Holder in another federal court and a demand for rush-rush judgment.
There should be a warning sign in Austin for Governor Rick Perry and his Attorney General, something to the effect about biting off more than a state can chew.
First, no matter how much they hate the 1965 Voting Rights Act, by seeking compliance and approval through the D.C., rather than the U.S. Justice Department, the state de facto acknowledge the legality of the Act and the validity of its provisions. Therefore, Texas prohibited itself from going after the Act, insofar as it cannot amend it original complaint.
Second, the map will change, but by how much, we do not know. It will most certainly not be like the state legislature’s map. In this respect, the State will lose something. It must concede more political turf to the minority communities.
Third, it crunch time for elections in Texas, and the issue of maps and voter identification are still unresolved. No candidate can get on the ballot without a map. The more pressure to get these issues resolved the less time and patience for more debate. And, after all, with Texas being Red as Hell, who cares if we ever vote in 2012, if they kill District 33?