Law School Case Brief
League of United Latin Am. Citizens v. Perry - 548 U.S. 399, 126 S. Ct. 2594 (2006)
The United States Supreme Court has identified three threshold conditions for establishing a violation of § 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, 42 U.S.C.S. § 1973: (1) a racial group is sufficiently large and geographically compact to constitute a majority in a single-member district; (2) the racial group is politically cohesive; and (3) the majority votes sufficiently as a bloc to enable it usually to defeat the minority's preferred candidate. These are the so-called Gingles requirements. If all three Gingles requirements are established, the statutory text directs a court to consider the "totality of circumstances" to determine whether members of a racial group have less opportunity than do other members of the electorate.
Following the 2000 census, a court-ordered redistricting plan was implemented in Texas for seats in the United States House of Representatives. In 2003, after Republicans gained control of the Texas Legislature, a new redistricting map was passed. Appellants argued that the mid-decade redistricting was an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander and that changes to particular districts violated the Voting Rights Act, the First Amendment, and the Equal Protection Clause.
Did the state redistricting plan violate § 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, 42 U.S.C.S. § 1973?
The Court rejected appellants' challenge to the plan as a whole, but did not reach agreement as to whether a reliable test for gerrymandering might exist. However, changes to a Latino-majority district, which were designed to protect an incumbent, constituted vote dilution in violation of 42 U.S.C.S. § 1973(b). Creation of a new, noncompact Latino-majority district did not compensate for the dismantling of the former compact district, and the absence of the former district undermined the progress of a racial group that had been subject to significant voting-related discrimination. The Court upheld the district court's decision that changes to another district did not unlawfully dilute African-American voting strength.
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