Court hears challenge on whether Texas' judicial elections system dilutes Hispanic vote

A trial starting Monday in federal court will test Texas' nearly 150-year-old system of statewide elections to the state's two highest courts. (MGN Online)

A federal judge is hearing arguments on whether Texas' statewide elections to choose judges for its highest criminal and civil courts violate the Voting Rights Act by deliberately diluting Hispanic voting power.

A coalition of Hispanic and civil rights advocates has sued and is seeking single-member districts for the Court of Criminal Appeals and Supreme Court. Similar systems are used by some city councils.

Proponents argue they could create districts empowering Hispanic voters in West Texas and the Rio Grande Valley, better reflecting a booming Latino population.

Both courts are all-Republican. A Democrat hasn't won statewide office in Texas since 1994.

U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos, who has previously ruled against Texas' voter ID law, began hearing the case Monday in Corpus Christi. He likely won't rule for weeks.

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