Dallas County Commissioners are the defendants in a Federal Court trial accusing them of bias against Anglos in the 2011 redistricting of Commissioners Court seats.
Anglos are now a minority in Dallas County and plaintiffs in the lawsuit claim they deserve protection under the Voting Rights Act, which was first used by African Americans and Latinos to gain representation.
“The whole purpose of the Civil Rights Movement, the whole purpose of the voting rights act is to protect racial minorities. It doesn’t matter who is on the short end of that stick. The law is the same no matter who a government targets on the basis of race,” said plaintiff’s lawyer Dan Morenoff.
Two Republican Commissioners on the five-member Court were reduced to just one after elections with the new district lines. But three of the five are still Anglos.
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League of United Latin American Citizens leader Hector Flores participated in that redistricting process trying to increase the number of Latino members on the Court to reflect the fact that Latino citizens are now more than 40 percent of the population.
“If anybody has a gripe, it probably would be Hispanics. My goodness. There’s three white people on this Commissioners Court. I don‘t know what they are complaining about,” Flores said.
Morenoff said different lines might have increased the chance Anglos would elect more Republicans.
“This isn’t about counting the races of who was elected. This is about who elected them and whether people are afforded the opportunity to elect people they prefer,” Morenoff said.
Attorneys for Dallas County have denied the accusation. The said the Voting Right Act was designed to protect groups which have been historically discriminated against and there is no evidence Anglos are suffering harm in the current election plan.
Dallas Morning News Political Writer Gromer Jeffers has been covering the trial which included witness testimony about long time African American Commissioner John Wiley Price’s past remarks about white people.
“It’s been a revisitation of these acrimonious issues in the county,” Jeffers said. “Judge Sidney Fitzwater will sort it all out and decide if there is a violation of the Voting Rights Act, but certainly this is a land mark case.”
The Anglo percentage of the population is expected to decline nationwide in the years to come so more reverse discrimination accusations are possible as demographics change.
“You may see these kinds of cases pop up elsewhere,” Jeffers said.
Judge Fitzwater instructed lawyers to file closing statements in writing by next month. A ruling could come after that.