In August, [the mayor of Pasadena, Texas] started pushing a plan to shrink the number of districts from eight to six, and replace those two with at large seats to be voted on by everyone in Pasadena.
And by everyone, we mean the town's white voting majority.
One of two Hispanics on the council, Cody Ray Wheeler.:
He decided to make a full power grab and he didn't care who you'd have to step over to get it.
To the community, the goal of the plan was clear: Dilute the power of the Hispanic vote and hand two seats to the majority white voting population, ensuring the citywide majority white voting population could band together and retain their power.
What this effectively does is give the south part of town, the Anglo part of town, the majority of the council.
It turns out this is precisely the sort of thing Section Five of the Voting Rights Act was designed to block. In fact, Ruth Bader Ginsburg cited this precise type of discrimination from a pre-Section Five world when the Voting Rights Act came before the court earlier this year.
These second generation barriers including racial gerrymandering, switching from district voting to at-large voting...
Did you hear that? At-large voting. It's the oldest trick in the book and it's so immediately recognizable that when a neighboring Texas town of Beaumont cooked up a similar at-large plan, it was blocked by the Justice Department in December 2012.
But then, the Supreme Court killed Section Five of the Voting Rights Act...
Now that Section Five is dead, there are thousands of potential Pasadenas all across the South.