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This week, a federal district court judge denied the State of Texas’s motion to dismiss a lawsuit alleging that the method of electing Texas’s Supreme Court and Court of Criminal Appeals violates the Voting Rights Act.
The two courts are the highest in the state and decide critical issues across the state. The lawsuit alleges that the statewide method of electing judges to these courts is discriminatory and denies Latinos an equal opportunity to elect candidates of their choice. In Texas, whites vote as a bloc resulting in the defeat of candidates supported by the Latino community.
In the opinion in the case of Lopez v. Abbott, Judge Nelva Ramos held that all Plaintiffs, including seven Latino voters and a Latino civic organization, have standing to bring the suit. Judge Ramos also rejected Texas’s argument that Plaintiffs had failed to state a cause of action under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, noting that the Supreme Court has already held that Section 2 applies to judicial elections. The case will now proceed to trial.
“This case makes clear that voting discrimination remains rampant across the state of Texas,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “The courts at issue render decisions that affect all Texans, but the current method of election prevents minority voters from electing candidates of their choice to these important tribunals. From our litigation against the state of Texas regarding their discriminatory photo ID law to this case challenging the discriminatory method of electing judges, much work remains to be done to address voting discrimination across the state.”