Federal court upholds Texas judicial elections

A challenge to Texas’s state judicial election scheme brought by Latino voters has been rejected by a federal district court. The lawsuit, brought by La Union Del Pueblo Entero (LUPE), asserted that Texas’s system for statewide appellate court elections diluted the Latino vote in violation of the federal Voting Rights Act. But U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzalez Ramos rejected that theory, noting that the election outcomes were better explained by (perfectly legal) dominance by the Republican Party.

The result stands in contrast to a ruling in Louisiana last year, in which a federal court found the at-large judicial election system in Terrebonne Parish to violate the U.S. Constitution. One important difference may be that the Louisiana voting scheme called for a parish-wide vote even though each elected judge presided over a specific district. By contrast, the appellate courts in Texas do not have judges preside over specific regions.

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