Supreme Court Overturned a 1992 Congressional Redistricting Plan Which Had Created
Minority Majority Districts
Redistricting – Use of Race Might Violate the Equal Protection Clause in the state’s Redistricting Plan – Court Rules
Last week we sent out a copy of a letter from Republican Charlie Collins of Fayetteville to the Board of Apportionment that began with this sentence: “We are writing to express our support for creating a Hispanic majority House district in Northwest Arkansas.” The letter was evidently designed to get other Republicans to sign on to it. We believe some Republicans did agree to sign on. However, we understand the letter was never sent after they received a great deal of negative responses. In another email there was a rebuttal to the state Republican Chair Doyle Webb who was quoted in the paper as saying: ” Hispanic voters relate to the Republican Party best. Hispanic Arkansans are growing in population and we would not object to a Hispanic district if by law one is warranted.”
GOP Representative Collins sent out another email to those who had contacted him about the Hispanic District (entire email below). Collins states in his email that “We need to apply the law of the land fairly and consistently.” Indeed we do need to apply the law of the land fairly. We citizens are expected to obey the law, and it causes great resentment when the illegal aliens are not held accountable to the law in the same manner. The Voting Rights Act is the major point we want to address, but there are a couple of other points we want to make first.
1. If Collins is concerned about applying the law of the land fairly, then why did he refuse to co-sponsor HB1292 by Jon Hubbard that would deny benefits to illegal aliens except in case of emergency? Thirty-two other Republicans did co-sponsor it, and how many bills has Collins sponsored to bring an end to the illegal activity committed by illegal aliens in Arkansas? He was sent several emails asking him to become a co-sponsor by constituents and had phone calls on the matter.
2. There is no voting majority in the area being considered as a Hispanic district. Collins said in his email: “The redistricting process is affected by the Voting Rights Act of 1965.” A Voting Rights Act concerns voters, doesn’t it? We have heard that the percentage of Hispanics in the district they are talking about creating is 48% Hispanic. That probably means we are talking about 24% of Hispanic voters. The growth rate in the area would prove that no more than that could be citizens because it takes a few years to become a citizen. Statistics also indicate the percentage rate of Hispanics in Arkansas applying for citizenship is less than 50%. Therefore, this district could not even be compared to other 13 majority districts for African Americans since they are legally here and have a legal right to vote. Collins said, “The voting rights of Hispanic citizens has nothing to do with illegal immigrants. We do not hold one person accountable for the crime of another, that is un American.” It is also unAmerican to create a Hispanic district when half the Hispanics considered are not even legal. That would definitely violate the intent of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
3. Collins also said, “There have been lawsuits in Arkansas over this topic in the past.” And there have also been lawsuits taken to the Supreme Court as well! Is Collins aware of those rulings? In regard to the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (which has been amended by Congress four times), “The United States Supreme Court in Miller v. Johnson, 515 U.S. 900 (1995), overturned a 1992 Congressional redistricting plan which had created minority majority districts in Georgia as unconstitutional gerrymander. In Bush v. Vera, the Supreme Court, in a plurality opinion, rejected Texas’s contention that Section 5 required racially-gerrymandered districts, (see Wikipedia on Voting Rights Act).There are other links that agree with this assessment.
4. Collins also said, My key point is that IF, only if, the Voting Rights Act applies following the 2010 census to Hispanics, that the law be applied fairly and consistently, which could potentially lead to our 14th majority minority district. State Republican Chairman Doyle Webb said,” Hispanic Arkansans are growing in population and we would not object to a Hispanic district if by law one is warranted.” It appears that the Republicans are leaving it up to the Democrats to interpret the law. Shouldn’t our state Republican leader and a Republican representative discussing this issue know what the law says instead of relying on the Democrats to interpret it? If the Hispanic District is created, the Republicans should be going to court with it rather than encouraging it. Most true conservatives don’t believe in denying minorities votes or obstructing their right to vote but don’t believe in giving them special treatment either because that violates the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The paragraph below explains the philosophy/policy of conservatives.
“In the 1990s the Justice Department’s use of the VRA to prevent minority vote dilution came under attack in the Supreme Court. The Justice Department has sometimes insisted that compliance with Section 5 requires maximizing minority voter strength. This in turn would require taking race significantly into account when states redraw their legislative and congressional districts. Some legal scholars and political leaders have claimed that the practice of placing voters in particular districts based on their race violates the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. This clause prevents states from denying to individuals “the equal protection of the laws” and has long been understood as prohibiting government from classifying individuals on the basis of their race. In Shaw v. Reno (1993) and Miller v. Johnson (1995), the Court suggested that such use of race might violate the equal protection clause if race was the predominant motivating factor in the state’s redistricting plan. The Court’s suggestion raises questions about how stringently the VRA may be used in the districting context.”
Republicans over the nation have valiantly fought over the past years to keep the voting laws consistent with the US Constitution and preserve our equal protection under the law according to the Fourteenth Amendment. The original Voting Rights Act in 1965 never mentioned redistricting but was concerned with banning the poll tax and other literacy tests that prevented minorities from voting. Conservatives agree there were many injustices committed by law against minorities before 1965, and would in no way want to limit the voting rights or any other rights of legal citizens. But now we have swung too far the other way, and we must fight for our constitutional rights just as the minorities fought for theirs when laws did not give them equal protection under the law.
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Email from GOP Charlie Collins sent July 9, 2011
I know that you are interested in the discussion I have raised about the possibility of a Hispanic majority district and want to better understand my position on it.
Here are a couple topline points as well:
— I am 100% opposed to illegal immigration. I believe the critical first step to solving the problem is securing the border. I am 100% opposed to amnesty for illegal immigrants. I believe that all of our immigration laws should be respected and enforced.
–The critical point I am raising regarding a potential Hispanic majority district in NWA is this: We need to apply the law of the land fairly and consistently. The redistricting process is affected by the Voting Rights Act of 1965. There have been lawsuits in Arkansas over this topic in the past. We have implemented the law over the years and that has lead to the creation of 13 minority majority districts. My key point is that IF, only if, the Voting Rights Act applies following the 2010 census to Hispanics, that the law be applied fairly and consistently, which could potentially lead to our 14th majority minority district. I believe in the rule of law and as adamantly as I insist we follow our immigration laws, I want to be consistent here too. I do not know if the Voting Rights Act “triggers” are met in this situation. The board of apportionment will do its work to determine the answer to that question.
— I, along with many other Arkansans have serious reservations about politics of identity and race, but the Voting Rights Act is the law of the land. It has long been enforced in Arkansas. Especially given this precedent, I believe it would be wrong not to enforce it for a Hispanic district if the criteria of the law dictate. When I was in the Navy I didn’t get to pick the orders I would follow. We don’t have the option of ignoring the law here either, in my view.
— CRITICAL: The voting rights of Hispanic citizens has nothing to do with illegal immigrants. We do not hold one person accountable for the crime of another, that is un American.
–I am still very interested in gathering information and hearing your opinions. There is a lot about this issue that I still don’t know. In particular, I would welcome further input from Hispanic-Americans.
— Regardless of whether or not we have a majority Hispanic district in NWA, I look forward to welcoming the first Hispanic elected in Arkansas to the legislature, and I am sure he or she will be a conservative and a Republican.
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Other quotes on Redistricting and Voting Rights Act 1965
1965 law misread, justices say
In a 5-4 decision, the court said officials need not consider race when drawing districts for state legislatures, county boards, city councils, and school districts, so long as blacks do not make up a voting majority in a particular area. [Note: That area could not possibly have a voting majority since at least 50% or more are illegal.]
State lawmakers believed the Voting Rights Act required them to draw districts that would give black candidates a realistic chance of winning.
But in yesterday’s opinion, the court said they had misread the law. It said the law applies “only when a geographically compact group of minority voters could form a majority in a single-member district,” Kennedy said.
On one hand, the court agreed lawmakers may not divide up a solidly minority community and thereby deprive black or Hispanic voters of electing the “representative of their choice.”
On the other hand, the law does not require officials to try to create a “cross-over district,” where a sizable minority population and some whites probably would elect a black candidate, the justices said.
The United States Supreme Court in Miller v. Johnson, 515 U.S. 900 (1995), overturned a 1992 Congressional redistricting plan which had created minority majority districts in Georgia as unconstitutional gerrymander. In Bush v. Vera, the Supreme Court, in a plurality opinion, rejected Texas’s contention that Section 5 required racially-gerrymandered districts. (Wikipedia/Voting Rights Act)
The Act has been renewed and amended by Congress four times, the most recent being a 25-year extension signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2006. (Wikipedia/Voting Rights Act)