A federal court says Texas' new voting maps, redrawn by a Republican legislature, violate the Voting Rights Act. They contain signs of discrimination against minorities, judges said in a 154-page opinion. "The three-judge panel unanimously found intentional discrimination across the state. There's no ifs, ands, or buts about it," says a lawyer for a Latino activist group that sued the state over the maps. The ruling doesn't affect provisional maps established for this year's election, but it could well affect those likely to be used in 2014, the AP reports. Texas prosecutors say the fight isn't over: They'll take it to the Supreme Court.
The state redrew the maps after its population prompted the addition of four new House seats; under the Voting Rights Act, Texas is among those states supposed to get Justice Department approval for its voting maps, because of a history of racial bias. The state, however, chose to take the maps to a Washington, DC, federal court rather than the Justice Department—and the plan backfired, an activist tells the AP. Texas prosecutors made the case that the maps sought partisan gain but didn't intend to violate the Voting Rights Act. Judges were skeptical: "It's really hard to explain (changes to the map) other than doing it on the basis of reducing minority votes," said one.