Texas Defends Its Lack of Latino Appellate Judges by Claiming It is All About Party, Not Race

Courthouse News Service:

“Since 1945, only five of the 76 justices to serve on the Supreme Court, a mere 6.6 percent, were Latino. During the same period, 69 of those 76 justices, or 89.5 percent, were white,” LUPE said in its first amended complaint, filed in September 2016. “Since 1945, only two of the 48 judges to serve on the Court of Criminal Appeals, or 4.2 percent, were Latino. During the same period, 44 of those 48 judges, or 91.7 percent, were white.”

When a vacancy comes up on either court, the governor appoints a replacement, who serves until the next general election and can then run for the seat.

“No Latino candidate has ever won election to either court without first being appointed by the governor,” the amended complaint states….

But Texas argues that its statewide judicial elections are being decided along partisan political lines, not racial lines.

Republicans dominate elections in Texas, perhaps more so than in any other U.S. state. Democrats have not won a statewide race in Texas since 1994.

The party affiliation of the 18 judges on the high courts appears to back Texas’ claims: All of them are Republican.

Besides that, Texas says, history and precedent is on its side.

In a pretrial brief filed early Monday, Texas cited the en banc Fifth Circuit’s 1993 ruling in LULAC v. Clements, in which a majority of the appellate court’s judges rejected a challenge to Texas’ process for selecting judges through countywide elections.

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