AUSTIN, Texas - Wednesday, Texas State Senators Roland Gutierrez (D-Bexar) and Sarah Eckhardt (D-Travis) along with the Tejano Democrats announced they have filed suit against Texas Governor Greg Abbott and the Texas Secretary of State’s Office in a Travis County Federal Courthouse in Austin in order to prevent the enactment of state legislative districts that they allege violate both state and federal law.
"The Texas Constitution is as clear as it can be: first, the Census is published, then Legislature must consider apportionment in the regular session following publication," Sen. Gutierrez of the 19th Senatorial District stated. "The Governor decided unilaterally that he can ignore the Texas Constitution any time it is convenient, but when it comes to how our legislative districts will look for the next ten years, we’re putting out foot down."
The group says that the results of the decennial Census were delayed because of COVID-19 and only recently published after the conclusion of the 87th Regular Legislative Session. The Texas Constitution requires that apportionment of state legislative districts be first done in a regular legislative session.
The group released a statement saying:
"The delayed release of census data left many believing that because the 87th Legislature was unable to consider legislative redistricting during the 140-day, regular legislative session, the Governor and Republican majority could just do it whenever they saw fit in a special called legislative session to be declared later."
"This legislative session, Texas Republicans showed a complete disregard for the rule of law and the Democratic process. They misinterpreted rules, suspended the Constitution, and resorted to making up rules to force through legislation that harms millions of Texas families and we aren’t going to let them do it with redistricting," said Senator Eckhardt of the 14th Senatorial District of Texas
The plaintiffs, represented by the former Chief Justice of the Texas Supreme Court, Republican Wallace Jefferson, contend in their lawsuit that if the Texas Legislature is unable to consider decennial legislative redistricting in the regular legislative session as required by the Texas Constitution that they must wait until the next regular legislative session which would begin in 2023.
"The Governor and Republicans may be able to force through racist voter suppression provisions that violate common decency and the law to try and protect their narrow majorities and their radical political agenda, but we the law clearly states that they cannot illegally redistrict in order to do so. Just in the last decade, Texas has been found to violate the Voting Rights Act and the 14th Amendment in adopting its State House, State Senate, and Congressional map," said Manuel Medina, Chair of the Tejano Democrats.