League of United Latin American Citizens v. Perry

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League of United Latin American Citizens v. Perry
Seal of the United States Supreme Court.svg
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 al.
Docket nos. 05-204
Citations548 U.S. 399 ( more )
126 S. Ct. 2594; 165 L. Ed. 2d 609; 2006 U.S. LEXIS 5178
Prior historyDenying 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 historyRemedial 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.
Court membership
Chief Justice
John Roberts
Associate Justices
John P. Stevens  · Antonin Scalia
Anthony Kennedy  · David Souter
Clarence Thomas  · Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Stephen Breyer  · Samuel Alito
Case opinions
MajorityKennedy (in part), joined by Stevens, Souter, Ginsburg, Breyer (Parts II-A & III); Roberts, Alito (Parts I & IV); Souter, Ginsburg (Part II-D)
Concur/dissentRoberts, joined by Alito
Concur/dissentStevens, joined by Breyer (Parts I, II)
Concur/dissentScalia, joined by Thomas; Roberts, Alito (Part III)
Concur/dissentSouter, joined by Ginsburg
Laws applied
Voting Rights Act of 1965, U.S. Constitution Amendment XV

League of United Latin American Citizens v. Perry, 548 U.S. 399 (2006), [1] 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.

Supreme Court of the United States Highest court in the United States

The Supreme Court of the United States is the highest court in the federal judiciary of the United States. Established pursuant to Article III of the U.S. Constitution in 1789, it has original jurisdiction over a narrow range of cases, including suits between two or more states and those involving ambassadors. It also has ultimate appellate jurisdiction over all federal court and state court cases that involve a point of federal constitutional or statutory law. The Court has the power of judicial review, the ability to invalidate a statute for violating a provision of the Constitution or an executive act for being unlawful. However, it may act only within the context of a case in an area of law over which it has jurisdiction. The court may decide cases having political overtones, but it has ruled that it does not have power to decide nonjusticiable political questions. Each year it agrees to hear about one hundred to one hundred fifty of the more than seven thousand cases that it is asked to review.

2003 Texas redistricting controversial redistricting of Texass districts for the U.S. House of Representatives

The 2003 Texas redistricting refers to a controversial mid-decade state plan that defined new Congressional districts. In the 2004 elections, this redistricting supported the Republicans taking a majority of Texas's House seats for the first time since Reconstruction. Opponents challenged the plan in three suits, combined when the case went to the United States Supreme Court in League of United Latin American Citizens v. Perry (2006).

Gerrymandering manipulation of electoral borders to favor certain electoral outcomes, or an electoral district thus manipulated

Gerrymandering is a practice intended to establish a political advantage for a particular party or group by manipulating district boundaries. The resulting district is known as a gerrymander ; however, that word is also a verb for the process. The term gerrymandering has negative connotations. Two principal tactics are used in gerrymandering: "cracking" and "packing". A third tactic, shown in the top-left diagram in the graphic to the right, is homogenization of all districts.


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. [2] The Court also declined to resolve a dispute over whether partisan gerrymandering claims present nonjusticiable political questions.

United States Congress Legislature of the United States

The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the Federal Government of the United States. The legislature consists of two chambers: the House of Representatives and the Senate.

Republican Party (United States) Major political party in the United States

The Republican Party, also referred to as the GOP, is one of the two major political parties in the United States; the other is its historic rival, the Democratic Party.


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. [3] 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. [3] 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. [3] Governor Rick Perry called three special sessions and ultimately passed the new plan. [3] 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. [4]

2000 United States Census 22nd determined the resident population of the United States on April 1, 2000

The Twenty-second United States Census, known as Census 2000 and conducted by the Census Bureau, determined the resident population of the United States on April 1, 2000, to be 281,421,906, an increase of 13.2% over the 248,709,873 people enumerated during the 1990 Census. This was the twenty-second federal census and was at the time the largest civilly administered peacetime effort in the United States.

Texas Legislature

The Legislature of the state of Texas is the state legislature of Texas. The legislature is a bicameral body composed of a 31-member Senate and a 150-member House of Representatives. The state legislature meets at the Capitol in Austin. It is a powerful arm of the Texas government not only because of its power of the purse to control and direct the activities of state government and the strong constitutional connections between it and the Lieutenant Governor of Texas, but also due to Texas's plural executive.

Redistricting is the process of drawing electoral district boundaries in the United States. A congressional act passed in 1967 requires that representatives be elected from single-member districts, except when a state has a single representative, in which case one state-wide at-large election be held.

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. [3] 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. [5] 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. [6] 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. [7]

Martin Frost American politician

Jonas Martin Frost III is an American politician, who was the Democratic representative to the U.S. House of Representatives for Texas's 24th congressional district from 1979 to 2005.

Gerrymandering in the United States Setting electoral district boundaries to favor specific political interests in legislative bodies

Gerrymandering in the United States is the practice of setting boundaries of electoral districts to favor specific political interests within legislative bodies. Partisan gerrymandering to increase the power of a political party has been practiced since the beginning of the United States.

Lee H. Rosenthal American judge

Lee Hyman Rosenthal is the Chief United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas.

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, [8] and then-Deputy U.S. Solicitor General Gregory G. Garre appearing as a friend of Texas. [9]

Paul M. Smith American attorney

Paul March Smith is an American attorney who has argued many important cases, most notably Lawrence v. Texas and has argued 21 cases before the Supreme Court of the United States. In January 2017, he joined the faculty at Georgetown University Law Center, and also the Campaign Legal Center in Washington, D.C., as Vice President of Litigation and Strategy. Until 2017, he was a partner at Jenner & Block's Washington, DC office where he served as co-chair of the firm's Election Law and Redistricting practice.

The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) is a national non-profit civil rights organization formed in 1968 to protect the rights of Latinos in the United States. Founded in San Antonio, Texas, it is currently headquartered in Los Angeles, California and maintains regional offices in Sacramento, San Antonio, Chicago, and Washington, D.C.

Ted Cruz United States Senator from Texas

Rafael Edward Cruz is an American politician and attorney serving as the junior United States Senator for Texas since 2013. He was the runner-up for the Republican nomination for President of the United States in the 2016 election.

Supreme Court

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. [5]

Texass 23rd congressional district district representing parts of Southwestern Texas in the U.S. House of Representatives

Texas's 23rd congressional district stretches across the southwestern portion of Texas. It is a predominantly Hispanic district and its current Representative is Republican Will Hurd.

<i>United States Reports</i> official record of the rulings, orders, case tables, and other proceedings of the Supreme Court of the United States

The United States Reports are the official record of the rulings, orders, case tables, in alphabetical order both by the name of the petitioner and by the name of the respondent, and other proceedings of the Supreme Court of the United States. United States Reports, once printed and bound, are the final version of court opinions and cannot be changed. Opinions of the court in each case are prepended with a headnote prepared by the Reporter of Decisions, and any concurring or dissenting opinions are published sequentially. The Court's Publication Office oversees the binding and publication of the volumes of United States Reports, although the actual printing, binding, and publication are performed by private firms under contract with the United States Government Publishing Office.

Statewide claims

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. [5] 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. [5] 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. [5] 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.” [5]

Districts 23 & 25

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. [5]

By a 5-4 vote the majority ruled that:

Dissents on Districts 23 & 25

Chief Justice Roberts, joined by Alito dissented. [5] 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. [5]

  • Nowhere in the American Voting Rights Act or legislative history is compactness of districts mentioned and that the majority is causing the jurisprudence of section 2 to diverge more and more from the legislative history.
  • New district 25 is more than an adequate replacement for old 23 (if necessarily), and indeed the majority accepts that new district 25 performed better for Latinos in 2004 than old district 23 from 19922002.

District 24

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. [5] Justice Scalia, joined by Thomas, concurred in that judgment but felt the case should be dismissed as non-judicable. [5] Justice Souter, joined by Ginsburg, dissented, arguing to vacate and remand. [5] Justice Stevens dissented, arguing to reverse. [5]

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.

Practical result

On August 4, 2006, the three-judge court made its remedial order. [10] 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.

See also

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  1. League of United Latin American Citizens v. Perry, 548 U.S. 399 (2006). PD-icon.svg This article incorporates public domain material from this U.S government document.
  2. The Associated Press (28 June 2006). "Justices Back Most G.O.P. Changes to Texas Districts". New York Times. Retrieved 28 June 2006.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 Jeffrey Toobin. "Drawing the Line: Will Tom DeLay's redistricting in Texas cost him his seat?". The New Yorker (March 6, 2006). Retrieved 30 May 2016.
  4. Rick Hasen (2 December 2005). "Another Explosive DOJ Voting Rights Memo Leaked to the Washington Post; Could It Affect Supreme Court's Decision in Texas Redistricting Case?". Election Law Blog. Retrieved 30 May 2016.
  5. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 The Supreme Court, 2005 Term — Leading Cases, 120 Harv. L. Rev. 243 (2006). Archived at the Wayback Machine (archived 7 April 2017)
  6. Session v. Perry, 298F. Supp. 2d451 (E.D. Tex.2004).
  7. Henderson v. Perry, 399F. Supp. 2d756 (E.D. Tex.2005).
  8. Baker, Sam (March 23, 2015). "When Ted Cruz Argued at SCOTUS" via National Journal.
  9. "League of United Latin American Citizens v. Perry". Oyez Project . Retrieved 14 October 2017.
  10. League of United Latin American Citizens v. Perry, 457F. Supp. 2d716 (E.D. Tex.2006).