87th LegislatureElections 2022FederalJudicialState Lawmaker Challenges New Lines for Austin-San Antonio Congressional District

State Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer filed a lawsuit against Texas’ new redistricting plan, specifically criticizing the 35th Congressional District.
December 13, 2021
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Stretching along the small sliver of Interstate 35 between Austin and San Antonio, Texas’ 35th Congressional District (TX-35) lives up to its name.

The new congressional boundaries that were adopted by the state legislature earlier this year have kept that positioning similar, though the boundaries were adjusted to make room in Austin for a completely new district.

In the process, the district’s total Hispanic population decreased from 60.2 percent to 55.1 percent, according to data from the Texas Legislative Council (TLC). Likewise, the Hispanic voting age population (HVAP) decreased from 56.5 percent to 51.3 percent according to the TLC data.

One Bexar County state representative, Trey Martinez Fischer (D-San Antonio), argues in a new federal lawsuit that the new plan for TX-35 “dilutes the voting strength of Latino voters in central Texas.”

“The nature of redistricting is creating winners and losers. District lines change, incumbents gain new constituents, and communities are divided. This is inevitable,” said Martinez Fischer in a press release. “What should not be inevitable is the intentional discrimination against Latino, Black, and AAPI voters that we have come to expect from Texas Republicans in redistricting.”

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“By denying Latinos in CD-35 the opportunity to elect a candidate of their choice, Texas has shortchanged our community of the representation it deserves and has willfully committed a Section 2 violation [of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.],” said Martinez Fischer.

His lawsuit also criticizes the population shift that the changes make away from San Antonio and toward Austin.

“Under the maps created by [Senate Bill 6], San Antonio’s central business district, downtown university, the River Walk, and the John H. Wood Jr. U.S. courthouse have been drawn into a congressional district anchored by a majority of its population in Austin,” claims the suit.

According to TLC data, the 2020 census population of Travis and Bexar counties in TX-35 changed from 263,480 and 344,030, respectively, under the old plan to 300,992 and 303,792 under the new plan.

Martinez Fischer’s lawsuit is only the latest in a series of challenges to the new Texas maps, which are still pending before the court.

Many of the cases, including the recent challenge from the Biden administration, have been consolidated into LULAC v. Abbott.

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Daniel Friend

Daniel Friend is a reporter for The Texan. He participated in a Great Books program at Azusa Pacific University and graduated in 2019 with a degree in Political Science. He has studied C.S. Lewis’s science fiction trilogy and in his spare time you might find him writing his own novel partly inspired by the series.