In what may be the most under-reported story of the year so far, the media has virtually ignored the shameful response by the state of Texas to a Department of Justice challenge of voter discrimination in the state.
In June, the right-wing majority in the Supreme Court struck down a key provision in the fifty year old Voting Rights Act of 1964. In doing so they sanctioned efforts by racially biased state governments to discriminate against minority residents and other voters they want to suppress.
Attorney General Eric Holder moved quickly to mitigate the harm caused by the decision. He directed the Justice Department to seek a court ruling to require Texas to get permission from the federal government before making changes to their voting laws under a different section of the VRA.
Last week Texas responded to the DOJ filing with an astonishing admission that the intent of their voting reforms is to discriminate. They masked the ultimate purpose in a political argument, but the result is unarguably racist and unconstitutional. Rick Hasen of the University of California at Irvine caught the offensive passage in the Texas filing:
“DOJ’s accusations of racial discrimination are baseless. In 2011, both houses of the Texas Legislature were controlled by large Republican majorities, and their redistricting decisions were designed to increase the Republican Party’s electoral prospects at the expense of the Democrats. It is perfectly constitutional for a Republican-controlled legislature to make partisan districting decisions, even if there are incidental effects on minority voters who support Democratic candidates.”
The argument by the state of Texas is that they are deliberately discriminating against Democratic voters, not minorities or other protected classes of citizens, and they regard that as permissible. The first problem with their argument is that it is questionable to assert that it is constitutional to “make partisan districting decisions.” Any overt attempt to suppress the voting rights of any citizen is challengeable and potentially in violation of civil liberties.
More to the point, the claim that they are only aiming their discriminatory activities at Democrats is disingenuous and unsupportable. The redistricting maps proposed by the Republican-controlled Texas legislature cut obviously across racial boundaries. The clear intent is to segregate blacks and Latinos into the fewest number of districts possible, denying them equal representation. These maps were struck down by federal courts as blatantly discriminatory, but now the state can re-introduce them with the blessing of an atrociously reasoned Supreme Court decision.
There is simply no way to pretend that the statement made in the filing defending the constitutionality of discrimination against Democrats is anything other than a defense of discrimination against minority communities in Texas. Given the demographic breakdown of the district mapping, it is absurd and grossly dishonest to assert that the “effects on minority voters” are “incidental.” What the state of Texas is doing is racism, pure and simple.
So where is the media coverage of this outrageous admission made in an official court document? None of the television news networks has reported on it. None of the major national newspapers has published a story about it. A few Internet news outlets have done some commendable reporting on it, but their reach is minimal at this point.
Without the establishment media informing the nation that this sort of institutionalized racism is going on, it will continue unabated. And if there is one thing that this proves other than the fact that racism is still deeply ingrained into some of our government systems, it’s that the conservative complaints about media are wholly without merit. Liberal media my ass!
16 thoughts on “Media Goes Silent As Texas Defends Constitutionality Of Racial Discrimination”
this is disgraceful i had martin frost as my congress mn from oakcliff texas i miss my congress man dnf tomdelay and rickperry has screwed up texas so bad it sucks to live here pete sessions is my congress man and i voted for paul sadler for sentor and domingo garcia and got vassey seems like we messicns dont hve a voice in texas its about whote texas for white texas of whote texas rich keep getting richer we become poorer
This article is very vague about what exactly the state is doing that’s racist? All it’s really doing is calling Texas racist but it’s not saying why.
I think the article states it pretty clearly:
Those are Mark’s words. They are not part of the documentation.
Is THIS unclear: “The argument by the state of Texas is that they are deliberately discriminating against Democratic voters, not minorities or other protected classes of citizens, and they regard that as permissible. The first problem with their argument is that it is questionable to assert that it is constitutional to “make partisan districting decisions.” Any overt attempt to suppress the voting rights of any citizen is challengeable and potentially in violation of civil liberties.” That is how the author views what TX is doing.
(I’m the first Scott. The second one wasn’t me)
I don’t live in Texas, someone just showed me this when we happened to be talking about Texas politics so maybe it’s clear to you what Texas is doing, but all I see is: Texas is being racist and Texas is discriminating against Democrats. What exactly is the Texas government doing that’s being racist or discriminating against Democrats?
This is the return of Jim Crowe with the blessing of the Supreme Court!
If I recall what was struck down, it was the map of states required to get DOJ approval of their election practices so as to confirm no discrimination in voting. The map was pretty old and should be reviewed periodically to update its accuracy for requiring this burden on some states. Sounds reasonable, forces congress to actually do its job once in a while. A law written decades ago should be reviewed periodically, especially when it requires only certain states to comply and not all. Maybe Texas still belongs on the list if they are still behaving in a way that brought on the initial law, but that’s the point, no state should be condemned forever unless they continue the practices that got them on the map initially.
The map actually reflects what these states, and in some cases, stand alone congressional districts, have done in the last ten years. The law that was erroneously struck down by the SCOTUS gave each of these areas an out if they “behaved” for ten years. The fact they were still on the list indicates they were guilty of some form of discrimination in the last ten years.
When the Voting rights acts was “re-upped”, you’re saying the congress evaluated the map for current/recent behavior? So in the end, regardless of who is right, the congress has the ability to re-evaluate the map and pass an update – exactly where is the problem? If it’s done now, it could be compliant with the supreme court ruling and you get what you want. I think you guys just want to bitch…
Districting & gerrymandering are two of those major issues damaging representative democracy right now and not getting any discussion.
It’s trivial computer science to set up algorithms to fairly create districts based on population ONLY but, of course, we aren’t doing it.
Yes, I think districts should just be square and equally sized to cover the state – overly simplistic maybe, but it takes the “crookedness” out – whoever is in the district is in – regardless of who benefits. I agree totally with you that gerrymandering is destroying our representation as they no longer feel obligated to the people they serve, but to the party only. These parties, as they exist now, are dirty, dirty, dirty.
Why have districts at all?
Why not have a Parliamentary System? Instead of voting for a candidate, you actually vote for a party. When the tally is done the seats are distributed by apportionment. (We might actually want to increase the size of the house too… and maybe move the senate to 3x per state. At lower salaries of course.)
If State X has 10 reps, and 39% goes to the GOP, 47% to the Ds, and 14% to the Greens you would apportion the seats as follows: 4 GOP, 5 Dem, 1 Green. Representation. Then of course party would matter as they would actually have to represent their platform.
Its not a new system.
Article 1, sections 2,3 and 4 and the 17th amendment don’t appear to fit your suggested system.
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