Redistricting, Texas-Style

An Influx of Hispanics Leads to Political Upheaval in Texas

This year we learned the full results of the 2010 U.S. Census: In the last decade the nation’s population increased 9.7 percent, to 308.7 million. Hispanics accounted for more than half that growth, helping to boost the political power of Southern and Western states. The biggest winner? Texas. It added 4.3 million residents, nearly 65 percent Hispanic, and will get four more seats in Congress.

That is, it will once the state’s politicians and the courts settle a feud over where to put those new districts and how much they should reflect the state’s changing demographics. When the GOP-controlled state legislature proposed a map with winding, weirdly shaped enclaves that created just one new Hispanic-majority district—and all but ensured Republicans would win three additional seats—the Justice Dept. said the plan disenfranchised minority voters. A federal court in Washington ordered a panel of Texas federal judges to redraw the lines. The new map caused a ruckus of its own, and now the whole mess is headed to the U.S. Supreme Court in January. The dispute over one of the districts—No. 35—has been especially bitter. A look at gerrymandering, Texas-style.

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