manipulate the boundaries of (an electoral constituency) so as to favor one party or class.
Gerrymandering has been blood sport in the US almost since the founding where partisans established districts that favored one party over another. Both sides did it for decades up until computer modeling raised it to an art form in the early 2000s.
Starting in 2002, pushed by good ol’ Tom Delay, Texas Republicans rammed through a mid-decade redistricting that turned state politics on its head to take control of the state house and delegation to Washington. The result has been a slow death spiral of our state by almost every measure causing declines in education, health care, and infrastructure lead by screwballs like Louie Gohmert, Dan Patrick, and Blake Farenthold.
To make matters worse, Republicans, knowing that their constituency of white angry people is aging and shrinking, have continued to tighten their grip to maintain power as the demographics of Texas push them into the minority. When they yet again gerrymandered Texas districts in 2011, using computer technology and a technique called “packing and cracking”, people who tend to vote Democratic were either packed into small districts or spread out so much that their votes didn’t count. These techniques discriminate against not only white Democrats, but disproportionately affect Hispanics and African Americans.
Friday, the story began to change when the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals threw out the redistricting plan of 2011 saying,
“The record indicates not just a hostility toward Democrat districts, but a hostility to minority districts, and a willingness to use race for partisan advantage.”
The court also noted the “strong racial tension and heated debate about Latinos, Spanish-speaking people, undocumented immigrants and sanctuary cities.” Finally, a federal court has spoken the truth about those who lead Texas – that they’re racists. The record of open hostility to minorities convinced the majority that this wasn’t just simple gerrymandering, which is bad enough, but actually a strategy to keep the votes of racial minorities from counting.
This judgment will very likely end up in an appeal to the Supreme Court. In the meantime, Texas has to go back to the drawing board. It’s about time.