The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to consider a lawsuit challenging the new lines for Senate District 10, a district representing almost 1 million people that was almost exclusively Tarrant County and anchored by Fort Worth for the last two decades.
Lines for Senate District 10 have been the subject of political debate for at least two redistricting cycles. Redistricting occurs every decade when new Census numbers are released.
Democrats on both the state and federal level have argued a Tarrant County-centric district is appropriate because it performs as a crossover district: one where a coalition of black, Latino and white voters can jointly election a candidate of their choice.
Most recently, SD 10 was represented by Beverly Powell, D-Burleson, who dropped out of her re-election bid in April, saying the lines drawn by the Republican-dominated legislature made it “an unwinnable race” for her. Powell served only one term.
In November, Powell joined a lawsuit filed by a coalition of black and Latino voters that challenged the new district lines for SD 10. The new district has a combined 45% black and Latino population, but it stretches across the south end of Tarrant County and seven more rural counties: Johnson, Parker, Palo Pinto, Stephens, Shackelford, Callahan and Brown counties.
“Today, I proudly joined Tarrant County citizens in a lawsuit to challenge the discriminatory Senate redistricting plan,” Powell wrote in a post on Twitter. “A nearly identical attack on Tarrant County happened 10 years ago, and federal courts ruled the map was intentionally discriminatory. The 2021 map is even worse.”
The decision to dismiss the challenge, known as Brooks v. Abbott, came down on a list of court orders. The court decided it did not have the jurisdiction to decide the issues in the case.
Tarrant County, under the new Senate map, is represented by five Senators: Sen. Kelly Hancock, R-North Richland Hills (SD 9); Sen. Tan Parker, R-Flower Mound (SD 12); Sen. Brian Birdwell, R-Granbury (SD 22); and Sen. Royce West, D-Dallas (SD 23).
The fifth senator — the one who will replace Powell — was not on the November ballot. Long-time House member Rep. Phil King, R-Weatherford, won the Republican primary. No Democrat filed for the seat, so his name was not on the November ballot.
That means a district drawn with almost equal populations of white and non-white voters is now represented by four white male Republicans, with West being the one exception. West, who represents only a sliver of Tarrant County, has a senate seat that is anchored by Dallas.
Powell won her seat in the 2018 mid-term election, beating incumbent Konni Burton, a Tea Party activist, elected in 2014. Democrats flipped a dozen House seats during the same election, the majority of those seats being in North Texas.