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Texas attorney general asks US Supreme Court to stop redistricting maps

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott’s request that the U.S Supreme Court stop redistricting maps drawn by a federal judicial panel in San Antonio, show just how important the Hispanic vote has become. At the heart of the disagreement a question of whether the maps will protect Hispanic republican incumbents or replace those officeholders with Hispanic democrats.

“The district I have been placed in is a 75 percent democratic seat, unwinnable by me or any republican candidate”, said State Representative Aaron Peña (R) who represents Hidalgo County in the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas. Peña announced Friday that he won’t seek re-election.

“At the beginning of the legislative redistricting process I advised colleagues and map drawers that my goal was to present a map that gave every incumbent in the Rio Grande Valley a legislative district they could win. We did just that, unfortunately the map drawn and designated by the three judge panel undid that work”, Peña said.

Latinos’ in Texas tend to vote for democrats but so far their share of the eligible electorate has lagged behind their share of the population, many are too young to vote or not citizen, but as naturalization increases and young U.S born Hispanics turn 18, the share is rising. According to a report by Pew Hispanic Center, 32 percent of all democratic primary voters in Texas were Hispanic in 2008, up from 24 percent in 2004.

“Latinos accounted for 65 percent of Texas’ growth last decade, which resulted in the state gaining four additional congressional seats. The congressional map enacted by the state legislator did not reflect this growth, and would have severely violated Latino voting rights.” said the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALO), a minority-rights group.

But according to Attorney General Abbott the federal judges in San Antonio acknowledged that no court has found the state’s maps to violate the Voting Rights Act.

“No court has, at any time, found anything unlawful about the redistricting maps passed by the Texas Legislature. It is judicial activism at its worst for judges to draw redistricting maps of their choosing despite no finding of wrongdoing by the State of Texas”.

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has asked the plaintiffs in the case to respond to Abbott’s argument by December 1.

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