The big corporate interests that pumped money into Tom DeLay's scheme
to control the Texas legislature and break precedent by rewriting an established
congressional redistricting plan in mid-decade, knew full well what they bought
in Texas. They bought our government.
A front-page Washington Post story today exposed a two-year cover-up by George
W. Bush appointees in the U.S. Department of Justice, of a memo written by career
lawyers there. The career attorneys found that a plan, crafted by Rep. Tom DeLay
(R) for redrawing Texas congressional districts, violated the Voting Rights
Act by deliberately subverting opportunities for African-Americans and Hispanics
to elect candidates of their choice to Congress.
Political appointees at Justice overruled the career attorneys' unanimous verdict
and authorized Texas to implement a redistricting plan that destroyed five Democratic
districts at the expense of minority voters.
As the expert witness upon whose testimony the career lawyers based their findings,
I have long maintained that the real story about Tom DeLay's recent indictment
in Texas goes far beyond the corrupt acts of a single individual.
DeLay's intervention in Texas state legislative elections was part of a concerted,
nationwide Republican plan to control our government through political gerrymandering
at the expense of black and Hispanic voters. I have observed this process first-hand
as the expert witness, not only in Texas, but also in the court cases challenging
Republican congressional redistricting plans in Pennsylvania, Florida, Ohio,
The DeLay plan thwarted the will of voters by drawing districts to guarantee
Republican victories and take over five Democratic seats. To this end, DeLay
and his allies cynically and knowingly destroyed the voting rights of millions
of African-Americans and Hispanics in Texas.
In the Dallas County area, the plan demolished a 60.5 percent minority district
and scattered its voters into five Anglo-dominated, Republican districts in
which they have no chance to influence the outcomes of elections.
In southwest Texas, DeLay's plan split heavily Hispanic Webb County, removing
some 90,000 Hispanics from Congressional District 23 to ensure that it would
elect a Republican opposed by Hispanic voters. His plan dismantled seven other
congressional districts across Texas in which African-American and Hispanic
voters critically influenced election outcomes, submerging these voters into
heavily Republican districts in which they have no influence.
DeLay's plan represents the first time, anywhere in America, that majority-minority
districts have been dismantled since the Voting Rights Act was passed.
A case challenging his plan is now on appeal to the U. S. Supreme Court. It
is the most important case affecting the balance of power in Congress since
the reapportionment decisions of the 1960's. If the Courts uphold the DeLay
plan they would sanction the perpetual redrawing of legislative district lines
and the blatant disregard of minority voting rights in pursuit of partisan gain.
Allan Lichtman is a voting rights expert witness, professor
of history and candidate for the open U.S. Senate Seat in Maryland.
Contact Allan at www.allanlichtman.com