The US Court docket of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit agreed on Friday to rehear a gerrymandering case out of Galveston County, Texas, en banc—that means the total bench of judges from the Fifth Circuit will sit to rehear arguments. The case facilities round a possible Voting Rights Act violation through which the petitioners argued that legislators unfairly diluted the voting affect of a majority of the county’s Black and Hispanic voters.
For twenty years, one of many 4 voting districts in Galveston County has been composed of 58 p.c of the Black and Hispanic inhabitants. Majority-minority districts are voting districting through which a minimum of 51 p.c of the inhabitants belonging to a minority group. Underneath the Voting Rights Act, it’s illegal to dilute these minority populations for the sake of minimizing their voting affect. The follow of doing so is what is usually known as “gerrymandering.”
In 2021, the Galveston County Commissioners Court docket applied a brand new districting plan. The re-drawn map didn’t include the majority-minority Black and Hispanic voting district. Due to this, petitioners Terry Petteway, Derrick Rose and Penny Pope filed go well with towards Galveston County.
The petitioners’ grievance claimed the county violated Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, which offers towards abridging voting rights based mostly on race. The district court docket dominated in favor of the petitioners, and Galveston County appealed. On enchantment, the Fifth Circuit mentioned that the district court docket opinion was an error of regulation. Whereas the Fifth Circuit discovered that the district court docket appropriately utilized their judicial precedent, the court docket discovered that that exact same judicial precedent was inconsistent with the intent of Part 2 of the Voting Rights Act. Due to this, the Fifth Circuit known as for the case to be reheard en banc.
Although diluting a majority-minority district composed of 1 racial minority is taken into account gerrymandering, the Fifth Circuit has argued it isn’t gerrymandering to dilute a majority-minority district the place not one of the racial minorities on their very own compose of 51 p.c of the voting inhabitants. Based on the court docket document, all events to this case agreed that neither the Black nor Hispanic voting populations within the contested district make up over 51 p.c of the inhabitants on their very own.
The circuit courts are cut up on whether or not to permit enable these sort of mixture racial minority claims for Part 2 violations of the Voting Rights Act. Some courts have dominated in favor of them, whereas others have denied them. The choice within the Galveston County case comes amid a wave of federal gerrymandering circumstances in Alabama, Georgia, and other southern states.