Controversial Texas redistricting trial begins

SAN ANTONIO — On day one of a trial that could lead to new Texas political maps, activists fighting for the court to redraw Congressional and state House boundary lines gather to protest what they call discriminatory districts.

“I don’t think the Republican-led majority can be trusted,” said Shannon Perez, plaintiff.

Perez is one of 17 voters the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) is representing during the redistricting trial.

 “I think we’re hoping for fair lines for representative government,” said Perez.

Seven years ago, the Republican-controlled legislature drew new state and congressional maps.  Minority groups immediately cried foul, saying the new boundaries discriminated against black and Latino voters.

In 2012, a court redrew temporary maps, which state lawmakers approved in 2013.

“And then the state began to adopt those maps as permanent. So really the big fight is, these maps don’t go far enough. There’s still so much more to address," said Trey Martinez-Fisher, plaintiff.

In court, attorneys representing Texas have denied any discrimination and asked to throw out the suit since. 

RELATED | Texas Redistricting Case Set for July

This past spring, the judges did some damage to the state’s arguments.  They ruled three of Texas' 36 congressional districts were drawn illegally. The judges also ruled that Texas lawmakers intentionally discriminated against minorities when crafting state House maps.

 “Gerrymandering has been so extreme on the part of the Republicans that Democrats have been so frustrated, especially minority Democrats, frustrated in their attempts to elect candidates of their choice," said Robert Brischetto, of MALDEF.

The timing of this case is also critical. If judges order new maps, there will be a scramble to get them drawn up before the 2018 elections since important deadlines are quickly approaching. 

If one side or the other is not yet satisfied, we can expect this case to make its way all the way to the U.S Supreme Court.

The trial is expected to last through the end of the week.

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