MALDEF Victory: Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals Upholds the Protection of All Persons in Redistricting

Court affirms that everyone deserves political representation, regardless of race, age, disability or citizenship status

NEW ORLEANS, LA – Yesterday, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruled against several residents of Irving, Texas who sought to compel the City of Irving to adopt voting maps for city council districts that ignored thousands of city residents. The residents sued the city and sought a court order requiring the city to apportion its council districts based only on residents who are over the age of 18 and U.S. citizens instead of total population. The federal district court ruled against the challengers in February 2011. MALDEF represents several Latino residents of Irving, Texas who intervened in the case to help defend the city’s redistricting plan. The changes in redistricting sought by the challengers would have overturned well-established redistricting law and also would have severely reduced representation of Latinos in Irving by packing them into overcrowded districts and burdening representatives elected to represent Latino neighborhoods.

The court held that the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause allows voting districts to be based on total population, as opposed to citizen voting age population. In yesterday’s decision, the Fifth Circuit chided the challengers, reminding them that this exact issue had been decided by the Fifth Circuit over ten years ago.

Thomas A. Saenz, MALDEF President and General Counsel, stated, "The Fifth Circuit has reaffirmed the basic principle, secured by the Constitution since the end of the Civil War, that every person is a constituent deserving of representation without regard to voting status, age, or other characteristic. It is shocking that in the twenty-first century, there are still those who would argue that our law should treat some persons as less than full human beings who count as fractions or not at all. The court's decision firmly rejects such retrograde assertions."

Nina Perales, MALDEF Vice President of Litigation and lead counsel for the Latino intervenors in the case, added, "The Fifth Circuit’s decision should put an end to frivolous litigation that seeks to destabilize democracy and strip political representation from whole classes of people, including children and others not yet eligible to vote."

The court's opinion can be found online here

Founded in 1968, MALDEF is the nation's leading Latino legal civil rights organization. Often described as the "law firm of the Latino community," MALDEF promotes social change through advocacy, communications, community education and litigation in the areas of education, employment, immigrant rights and political access. For more information on MALDEF, please visit:

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Copyright 2009 MALDEF — Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund