Common Cause

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Common Cause & Voting Rights Institute File SCOTUS Brief in Challenge to Texas Racial Gerrymander

WASHINGTON - Today, Common Cause and the Voting Rights Institute filed an amici brief in the U.S. Supreme Court in Abbott v. Perez, in support of a challenge to Texas legislative districts twice found by lower courts to be discriminatory racial gerrymanders perpetrated by the state Legislature. The maps drawn after the 2010 Census, were initially found to violate the Voting Rights Act by a U.S. District Court in 2011 but were reinstituted by the Legislature in 2013 without change.  

“Every Texan deserves fair and equal representation but the Legislature's insistence on trying to predetermine the outcome of our elections has denied many members of minority communities that representation and led to this seemingly endless litigation,” said Anthony Gutierrez, executive director of Common Cause Texas. “Just as our nation’s highest court did during the Jim Crow era, we are confident that the Supreme Court will act once again to strike down this effort by the Texas Legislature to draw district lines to deny minority communities their right to equal representation under the Voting Rights Act.”

“The Texas Legislature has chosen to repeatedly ignore the Voting Rights Act in an attempt to maintain a significant Republican majority in Austin but we hope the Supreme Court will uphold the laws passed by Congress to protect the voting rights of minority communities,” said Karen Hobert Flynn, president of Common Cause. “The scofflaw actions of the Texas Legislature must be reigned in by our nation’s highest court. If the Court does not act, we risk slipping back into one of our nation’s darkest chapters before the Voting Rights Act prohibited race-based voter suppression tactics that were common in the post-Reconstruction South.”

A U.S. district court initially struck down the maps but, due to the then impending 2012 election, allowed a number of the districts to remain in effect on an interim basis. Subsequently the state has argued that the court’s decision to allow the use of those districts in 2012, constituted a green light to continue using the maps despite the fact that the court found that they suppressed the representation of minority communities across the state in violation of the Voting Rights Act.

Common Cause and the Voting Rights Institute are represented in the Supreme Court by Charles Rothfeld, Michael Kimberly, Andrew Pincus, and Paul Hughes of Mayer Brown LLP, working in conjunction with the Yale Law School Supreme Court Clinic.

To read the brief filed by Common Cause and the Voting Rights Institute, click here.

To view this release online, click here.

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Common Cause is a nonpartisan, nonprofit advocacy organization founded in 1970 by John Gardner as a vehicle for citizens to make their voices heard in the political process and to hold their elected leaders accountable to the public interest.

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