MALDEF successfully litigated for new Latino opportunity districts

SAN ANTONIO, TX – Yesterday, a federal three-judge panel in San Antonio, Texas released new redistricting plans for the Texas Housee of Representatives. The plan released by a majority of judges contains additional Latino opportunity districts.

MALDEF, on behalf of the Texas Latino Redistricting Task Force and seventeen individual voters, filed suit against Texas in July challenging the legislatively-enacted redistricting plans for congress and Texas House as discriminatory against Latinos in Texas.

Thomas A. Saenz, MALDEF President and General Counsel, stated "The court's action vindicates the continued vitality and importance of the federal Voting Rights Act in protecting the rights of Latino voters, whose rights and interests were completely neglected by the Texas legislature."

Today's court-ordered Texas House redistricting plan:

  • Locates an additional House district (HD 35) in the Rio Grande Valley that will afford Latinos the opportunity to elect their candidate of choice. At trial, MALDEF argued that the significant population growth in Cameron and Hidalgo Counties warranted the addition of a House district.
  • Increases the Latino population of HD 78 in El Paso so that it will afford Latinos the opportunity to elect their candidate of choice. At trial, MALDEF argued that the Legislature's House plan intentionally gerrymandered the El Paso seats to ensure that Latinos would constitute an ineffective minority of voters in HD78.
  • Increases the Latino population in HD 144 in Houston so that it will afford Latinos the opportunity to elect their candidate of choice.
  • Maintains HD 33 in Corpus Christi as a Latino opportunity district. HD 33 was eliminated in the Texas Legislature's redistricting plan when it reassigned the district to Rockwall County. At trial, MALDEF argued that the elimination of HD33 as a Latino opportunity district violated the Voting Rights Act.
  • Maintains HD 117 in San Antonio. HD 117 is a Latino-majority district that was re-drawn in the Texas Legislature's redistricting plan to minimize the ability of Latinos to elect their preferred candidate. At the remedial hearing, MALDEF argued that the Legislature intentionally gerrymandered HD117 to protect the incumbent at the expense of Latino voters.

Nina Perales, Vice President of Litigation, stated "The court's proposed new redistricting plan responds to the evidence we presented at trial and increases the number of Latino opportunity districts statewide. Today's court-ordered plans send a strong message that it will not accept the State's excuses for reducing Latino voting strength in the face of dramatic population growth."

The parties in the case have until noon tomorrow to comment on the plans released by the three-judge panel.

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