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Tue Jan 31, 2012, 07:03 PM

Whoa! it's getting hot in Texas- Federal court is looking at our gerrymandering today!


WASHINGTON--Federal judges voiced doubts about key arguments put forth by attorneys representing Texas on the last day of a trial to determine whether the Legislature's redistricting plans violated minority voting rights.

The three-judge panel frequently interrupted the state's closing presentation on Tuesday, probed some of its most basic positions and questioned its interpretation of some evidence.

Lawyers for Texas argued throughout the trial that the GOP-controlled Legislature created oddly shaped districts and used gerrymandering techniques to protect Republican incumbents--not to discriminate against racial minorities. Political gerrymandering is legal, if not pretty, they said.

Judge Rosemary Collyer questioned whether politics could excuse the fracturing of minority communities, who fueled 89 percent of Texas' population growth in the last decade and helped the state gain four new seats in Congress.

"It's really hard to explain that," she said, "other than on the basis of reducing the effectiveness of the minority vote, whether black or Latino."

She pointed to the Legislature's plans for congressional seats in the Dallas-Forth Worth area. District boundaries carve up much of the urban center--largely minority and Democratic--and disperses it into GOP-friendly districts in the suburbs.

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