|League of United Latin American Citizens v. Perry|
|Argued March 1, 2006
Decided June 28, 2006
|Full case name||League of United Latin American Citizens, et al. v. Rick Perry, Governor of Texas, et. all|
|Citations||548 U.S. 399 (more)|
|Prior history||Denying relief, Session v. Perry, 298 F. Supp. 2d 451 (E.D. Tex. 2004); vacating and remanding for reconsideration, Henderson v. Perry, 125 S. Ct. 351 (2004) (mem.); denying relief, 399 F. Supp. 2d 756 (E.D. Tex. 2005).|
|Subsequent history||Remedial order, League of United Latin American Citizens v. Perry, 457 F. Supp. 2d 716 (E.D. Tex. 2006).|
|Texas's redrawing of District 23's lines amounts to vote dilution violative of §2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, while other newly created districts remain constitutional. The judgment is affirmed in part, reversed in part, vacated in part, and remanded.|
|Majority||Kennedy (in part), joined by Stevens, Souter, Ginsburg, Breyer (Parts II-A & III); Roberts, Alito (Parts I & IV); Souter, Ginsburg (Part II-D)|
|Concur/dissent||Roberts, joined by Alito|
|Concur/dissent||Stevens, joined by Breyer (Parts I, II)|
|Concur/dissent||Scalia, joined by Thomas; Roberts, Alito (Part III)|
|Concur/dissent||Souter, joined by Ginsburg|
|Voting Rights Act of 1965, U.S. Constitution Amendment XV|
League of United Latin American Citizens v. Perry, 548 U.S. 399 (2006), is a Supreme Court of the United States case in which the Court ruled that only District 23 of the 2003 Texas redistricting violated the Voting Rights Act. The Court refused to throw out the entire plan, ruling that the plaintiffs failed to state a sufficient claim of partisan gerrymandering.
The opinion requires lawmakers to adjust Congressional district boundaries in comport with the Court's ruling, though the ruling does not threaten Republican gains as a result of the redistricting in Texas. The Court also declined to resolve a dispute over whether partisan gerrymandering claims present nonjusticiable political questions.
After the 2000 United States Census Democrats and Republicans in the Texas Legislature could not reach an agreement on redistricting and a new plan had to be drawn by a federal three-judge court made up of U.S. Circuit Judge Patrick Higginbotham, and U.S. District Judges John H. Hannah, Jr. and T. John Ward. When Tom DeLay and his Texans for a Republican Majority helped Republicans win total control of the state in the 2002 election, however, they sought to replace the court's redistricting plan. Democratic lawmakers known as the Killer Ds and the Texas Eleven fled the state to deny the legislature of a quorum, but the clerk of the Texas House of Representatives issued arrest warrants for the legislators and DeLay had federal agencies track their movements. Governor Rick Perry called three special sessions and ultimately passed the new plan. Career staff at the United States Department of Justice Civil Rights Division advised the plan failed preclearance under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 but were overruled by acting Assistant Attorney General Bradley Schlozman.
At the November 2004 election, Republican seats increased from fifteen to twenty-one, with even Martin Frost, the third-ranking Democrat in the House, losing his seat. Private plaintiffs sued, alleging any mid-decade redistricting was illegal, the plan was an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander, and it was in violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. On January 6, 2004, a three-judge district court now made up of Circuit Judge Higgenbotham, and District Judges Ward and Lee H. Rosenthal rejected all the plaintiffs' claims, with Judge Ward concurring in part and dissenting in part. On October 18, 2004, however, the Supreme Court vacated and remanded the case after its new plurality decision in Vieth v. Jubelirer readdressed the political question doctrine. On June 9, 2005, the three-judge court rejected all the plaintiffs' claims again, with Judge Ward writing a special concurrence.
Plaintiffs appealed directly to the U.S. Supreme Court, where two hours of argument were heard on March 1, 2006, with Paul M. Smith appearing for the statewide plaintiffs, Nina Perales of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund appearing for the District 23 plaintiffs, Texas Solicitor General Ted Cruz appearing for the state, and then-Deputy U.S. Solicitor General Gregory G. Garre appearing as a friend of Texas.
On June 28, 2006, the second to last day of the term, a highly fractured Court rejected all of the plaintiffs' claims except for the vote dilution claim in Texas's 23rd congressional district, producing six different opinions spanning 121 pages of the United States Reports.
Justice Anthony Kennedy, joined by Justices David Souter and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, rejected plaintiff's claim that the statewide plan was an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander. Chief Justice John G. Roberts and Samuel Alito did not join that part of the opinion but concurred in the judgment, while noting that they were "taking no position" on if political gerrymandering claims were even judicable. Justice Antonin Scalia, joined by Clarence Thomas, also concurred in the judgment but felt that the case should be dismissed because political gerrymandering claims are not justiciable. Justice John Paul Stevens, joined by Stephen Breyer, dissented, arguing that because the plan's "sole intent" was explicitly partisan, it violated the Equal Protection Clause and that Republicans had created "their own impermissible stranglehold on political power."
The Court, now of Justice Kennedy, joined by Justices Souter, Ginsburg, Stevens and Breyer, applied Thornburg v. Gingles' (1986) to find vote dilution in District 23 in violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.
By a 5-4 vote the majority ruled that:
Chief Justice Roberts, joined by Alito dissented. Justice Scalia also dissented and, joined by the Chief Justice and Justices Thomas and Alito, argued that District 23 violated neither the Voting Rights Act nor the Equal Protection Clause.
Justice Kennedy, joined by Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito, found that the plan did not crack Texas's 24th congressional district in violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. Justice Scalia, joined by Thomas, concurred in that judgment but felt the case should be dismissed as non-judicable. Justice Souter, joined by Ginsburg, dissented, arguing to vacate and remand. Justice Stevens dissented, arguing to reverse.
The majority of the court noted that old district 24 had three separate communities to begin with (Whites, Blacks, Latino) and Martin Frost (a White Democrat) never having been challenged in 22 years in a primary made it impossible to dispute the state legislative history that it was specifically created for a White Democrat.
On August 4, 2006, the three-judge court made its remedial order. The three-judge court adjusted the lines of the 23rd and four other districts -- the 28th (represented by Democrat Henry Cuellar), 25th (Democrat Lloyd Doggett), 15th (Democrat Ruben Hinojosa) and 21st (Republican Lamar S. Smith) -- all of which held new primary elections on November 7. Cuellar, Doggett, Hinojosa, and Smith were all reelected, while Henry Bonilla, the Republican representative for the 23rd District, was defeated by Democrat Ciro Rodriguez in a newly 61% Latino district.