PolitiFact: Courts repeatedly finding Texas laws discriminatory

After federal judges in April 2017 ruled that Texas Republicans had intentionally diluted minority voting strength when they redrew U.S. and Texas House districts, a Democratic legislator said it wasn’t the first time — or even the fifth.

Rep. Rafael Anchia of Dallas, who chairs the Mexican American Legislative Caucus, posted a tweet saying: “How many federal rulings have NOW found intentional discrimination by #Txlege since 2011? 6.”

Six rulings? We decided to put that to the Texas Truth-O-Meter.

When we asked, Jaclyn Uresti, executive director of the caucus, emailed us a list that added up to six decisions, all of which we confirmed from news accounts and court rulings:

• Aug. 28, 2012: In a redistricting case brought by the U.S. Justice Department, three federal judges ruled that the state had “not met its burden to show that the U.S. Congressional and State House Plans will not have a retrogressive effect, and that the U.S. Congressional and State Senate Plans were not enacted with discriminatory purpose.” In rejecting the argument from state attorneys, the court said the maps had “the effect of denying or abridging the right to vote on account of race, color, or membership in a language minority group” in violation of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

• Aug. 30, 2012: In a unanimous ruling, three judges in Washington, D.C., issued the first of what were to become several decisions that blocked the state’s voter photo identification law, which requires Texans to present a state-issued photo ID before casting a ballot at the polls. “A law that forces poorer citizens to choose between their wages and their franchise unquestionably denies or abridges their right to vote,” the opinion said, adding that the law was intentionally discriminatory.

• Oct. 9, 2014: In a case brought by U.S. Rep. Marc Veasey, D-Fort Worth, U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos of Corpus Christi ruled the voter ID law violated the Voting Rights Act of 1965 by disproportionately and intentionally burdening African-American and Latino voters. She blocked the law from going into effect and said it amounted to an unconstitutional poll tax.

• March 10: A three-judge panel ruled, in a case brought by Shannon Perez, a Latina Democratic Bexar County voter, that Republican lawmakers in 2011 drew three of the state’s 36 congressional districts in a way that discriminated against Latino voters.

• April 10: Judge Ramos of Corpus Christi — reviewing Veasey’s voter ID case at the direction of 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals — found that the 2011 Legislature intentionally discriminated against minority voters by advancing the mandate that each voter present a photo ID if casting a ballot at the polls.

• April 20: The pair of federal judges who ruled against Texas in March 2017 decided, in a new case brought by Democrats, that Republican lawmakers in 2011 redrew Texas House districts with the intention of diluting the electoral strength of minority voters in several parts of the state. “The impact of the plan was certainly to reduce minority voting opportunity statewide, resulting in even less proportional representation for minority voters,” according to the court’s 2-1 opinion.

Our ruling:

Anchia said that six times since 2011, federal rulings found intentional discrimination by the Legislature.

We confirmed six such rulings from August 2012 through April 2017 issued by federal judges regarding Republican-drawn U.S. House and Texas House districts or the GOP-driven law requiring voters to present photo identification at the polls.

We rate the claim True.

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