On the very same day that Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis (D) drew national attention for stopping a bill that would have closed every abortion clinic in the state and outlawed abortion after 20 weeks, the Supreme Court gutted the law that kept her in office in the first place.
In fact, just an hour before Davis launched into her 13-hour filibuster on Tuesday, the Supreme Court struck down a portion of the Voting Rights Act that kept discriminatory voting laws from going into effect in areas of the country with histories of disenfranchisement. That includes states like Texas, where in 2011 the GOP sought to change the demographic composition of Davis’ district, who was elected in 2008 with strong support from minority voters.
As MSNBC’s Zachary Roth reported, lawmakers moved “tens of thousands of black and Hispanic voters into neighboring districts” and as a result, “of the 94 precincts that were over 70 percent minority, Republicans cut out 48,” effectively separating black and Hispanic voters and preventing them from forming a sizable majority.
Davis and the Department of Justice used Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act — which allows the federal government to review election changes in areas of the country with a history of racial discrimination — to challenge the changes in court. In August of 2012, a panel of federal judges found that “substantial surgery” was done to predominantly black districts, cutting off representatives’ offices from their strongest fundraising bases, and blocked the changes.
“The map-drawers consciously replaced many of the district’s active Hispanic voters with low-turnout Hispanic voters in an effort to strengthen the voting power of [the district’s] Anglo citizens,” the judges wrote and accused Texas officials of trying to decrease the effectiveness of minority voters.
Following the ruling, Davis’s district lines were mostly restored and she was re-elected “by a nearly identical margin to her 2008 victory.”
But that victory could be short lived. Just two hours after the Supreme Court’s ruling on Tuesday, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott announced that the state would advance a voter ID law and the very same redistricting map that was designed to keep Davis out of office.