Terrazas v. Ramirez, No. D-1817

CourtSupreme Court of Texas
Writing for the CourtHECHT; PHILLIPS, C.J., and COOK; Concurring opinion by GONZALEZ; Concurring opinion by CORNYN; Dissenting opinion by MAUZY, J., in which DOGGETT; Dissenting opinion by HIGHTOWER, J., in which GAMMAGE; GONZALEZ; CORNYN; MAUZY; DOGGETT; HIGHTOWER; As f
PartiesLouis TERRAZAS, et al., Relators, v. Hon. Mario E. RAMIREZ, Judge of the 332nd District Court in Hidalgo County, Texas, et al., Respondents.
Decision Date17 December 1991
Docket NumberNo. D-1817

Page 712

829 S.W.2d 712
Louis TERRAZAS, et al., Relators,
v.
Hon. Mario E. RAMIREZ, Judge of the 332nd District Court in
Hidalgo County, Texas, et al., Respondents.
No. D-1817.
Supreme Court of Texas.
Dec. 17, 1991.
Motion for Leave to File
Motion for Rehearing
Denied Jan. 15, 1992.

John N. McCamish, Jonathan David Pauerstein, Kevin M. Warburton, San Antonio, for relators.

Dan Morales, Atty. Gen., Renea Hicks, Javier P. Guajardo, Asst. Attys. Gen., Austin, for respondents.

James C. Harrington, Austin, Travis Hiester, McAllen, Judith Sanders-Castro, Jose Garza, San Antonio, for respondents-intervenors.

OPINION

HECHT, Justice.

Following publication of the 1990 United States decennial census, the Seventy-Second Legislature enacted Senate Bill 31 1 and House Bill 150, 2 reapportioning state senatorial and representative districts, respectively, as required by article III, section 28 of the Texas Constitution. 3 In litigation challenging the accuracy of the 1990 census and the validity of any redistricting based upon it, Hon. Mario E. Ramirez, Judge of the 332nd District Court in Hidalgo County, Texas, has ordered that all elections for the Texas Senate and House of Representatives be based, not upon the reapportionment statutes enacted by the Legislature, but upon districts reconfigured by the court.

Two judgments rendered by the district court affect state senatorial districts, one dated October 11, 1991, in Cause No. C-454-91-F, styled Mena v. Richards, and the other dated October 7, 1991, in Cause No. C-4395-91-F, styled Quiroz v. Richards. Both judgments were based upon a settlement agreement between the plaintiffs in the two cases and three of the defendants, the Governor and the director and executive director of the Texas Legislative Council. These defendants are represented by

Page 712

the Texas Attorney General, who executed the settlement agreement on their behalf.

In the original mandamus proceeding now before this Court, five individuals who were not parties in either suit 4 request us to direct the district court to vacate these two judgments. They argue, in essence, that the district court, in redistricting the State by merely approving an agreement of the Governor, the Attorney General, and a few other individuals, encroaches upon a power which the Constitution commits to the Legislature. They also ask that the Attorney General be directed to rescind his agreement to the judgments, and that the Secretary of State be directed to withdraw the districting plan created by the judgments from preclearance consideration by the United States Department of Justice

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under section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, 42 U.S.C. § 1973c.

We hold that a district court cannot order a reapportionment plan for the State based upon nothing more than the agreement of the Governor, the Attorney General, and a few citizens. Accordingly, we conditionally grant the requested relief directed to Judge Ramirez. We deny relief against the Attorney General and Secretary of State.

I

A somewhat detailed history of the Mena and Quiroz litigation out of which the present proceeding arises is important to place in context the legal issues raised.

The Mena lawsuit, filed February 7, 1991, originally sought to prohibit use of the 1990 census to reapportion the State's legislative, congressional, and state board of education districts. The suit was filed against two groups of defendants: the Governor, the director and executive director of the Texas Legislative Council, whom we refer to as "the state defendants", all of whom are represented by the Attorney General; and the county judge and commissioners of Hidalgo County, whom we refer to as "the county defendants", and who are not represented by the Attorney General. Plaintiffs alleged that the 1990 census disproportionately undercounted racial and ethnic minority populations in Texas, and that any reapportionment based upon it, without adjusting for such undercount, would violate article I, sections 3, 3a, 19 and 29 of the Texas Constitution. 5

Notwithstanding this lawsuit, the Legislature during its regular session enacted Senate Bill 31 and House Bill 150, reapportioning state senatorial and representative districts, respectively, using the 1990 census. The Legislature did not reapportion congressional or board of education districts during the regular session. Plaintiffs in the Mena suit then amended their petition to request a declaration that Senate Bill 31 and House Bill 150 are unconstitutional, to enjoin elections based upon those statutes, and to require that legislative districts be redrawn. Plaintiffs also challenged the constitutionality of pre-1991 congressional districts, TEX.REV.CIV.STAT.ANN. art. 197g (Vernon Supp.1991), and board of education districts, TEX.EDUC.CODE § 11.21. Plaintiffs moved for summary judgment and for a temporary injunction.

Beginning August 5, 1991, the district court heard evidence and argument for approximately three days on plaintiffs' application for temporary injunction. The court also heard argument on plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment. The state defendants, represented by the Attorney General, defended the validity of the Legislature's apportionment statutes. The county defendants aligned themselves with plaintiffs. Following this hearing, on August 22, the district court granted partial summary judgment for plaintiffs, declaring that the 1990 census disproportionately undercounted Mexican-American and African-American populations in Texas, that use of unadjusted 1990 census data as a basis for any reapportionment violates article I, sections 3, 3a, 19 and 29 of the Texas Constitution, and that Senate Bill 31 and House Bill 150, which are based upon unadjusted 1990 census data, violate the same sections of the Texas Constitution as well as article III, sections 25, 26 and 28.

While this ruling as requested by plaintiffs is very broad, the district court went

Page 715

much further. It held that further use of all legislative, congressional and board of education districts apportioned on the basis of 1980, not 1990, census data, would also be unconstitutional. The district court issued a temporary injunction mandating the state defendants to submit, by September 30, 1991, new reapportionment plans using adjusted census figures to compensate for the undercounting found by the court. The court also enjoined any further reapportionment based upon 1990 census data and any legislative elections based upon Senate Bill 31 and House Bill 150. The court set trial on the merits for October 1.

Three days later, the Legislature in its second called session enacted congressional and board of education reapportionment statutes based upon 1990 census data. Act of Aug. 25, 1991, 72nd Leg., 2d C.S., ch. 2, 1991 Tex.Sess.Law Serv. 2 (Vernon) (board of education districts); Act of Aug. 25, 1991, 72nd Leg., 2d C.S., ch. 7, 1991 Tex.Sess.Law Serv. 41 (Vernon) (congressional districts). Despite the district court's sweeping temporary injunction, the Governor signed these statutes. Plaintiffs have not directly challenged them.

On August 23, the day after the district court issued its order, the state defendants filed their notice of direct appeal to this Court. They filed their statement of jurisdiction in this Court on September 23, and moved to stay proceedings in the district court so that the parties could focus their efforts on the appeal. We granted the motion on September 24. Despite this stay, on September 27 the district court signed extensive findings of fact and conclusions of law in support of its August 22 order.

On October 4, nineteen of the thirty-one state senators requested the Attorney General to propose an alternate senate redistricting plan to plaintiffs to settle that portion of the litigation. The Lieutenant Governor did not endorse the plan but indicated that he would abide by the will of the Senate and encouraged the Attorney General to settle the case if possible. On October 7, plaintiffs and the state defendants entered into an agreement to settle their dispute regarding state senatorial districts based upon the proposed alternate plan. In accordance with the agreement, the parties took the following actions, all on October 7, to avoid the effect of our stay of proceedings in Mena. Plaintiffs filed a new lawsuit against the state defendants in the 332nd District Court, styled Quiroz v. Richards. Plaintiffs alleged essentially the same claims against Senate Bill 31 as in Mena, but against the state defendants only. The state defendants answered. All parties filed a joint motion for entry of an agreed final judgment prohibiting any elections based upon Senate Bill 31 and ordering that elections for the State Senate be based instead on the alternate redistricting plan attached to the judgment until enactment of another under Texas law and preclearance under federal law. The state defendants expressly did not concede the invalidity of Senate Bill 31 and the agreed judgment did not hold the statute invalid. The district court signed the agreed judgment "[b]ased upon the Joint Motion for Entry of Agreed Final Judgment, and arguments and stipulations of counsel". 6

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The Secretary of State notified the United States Department of Justice that he was substituting the agreed plan for the Senate Bill 31 plan for preclearance consideration. 7 And the state defendants moved this Court to lift its stay of proceedings in Mena to allow the trial court to consider the same proposed settlement in that case.

On October 9, we noted probable jurisdiction over the direct appeal in Mena. Richards v. Mena, 820 S.W.2d 371 (1991); see TEX. CONST. art. V, § 3-b; TEX.GOV'T CODE § 22.001(c); TEX.R.APP.P. 140. We also granted the parties' requests to expedite consideration, established a briefing schedule, and set the case for oral submission on October 29. Richards, 820 S.W.2d at 371. On October 10, we...

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102 practice notes
  • State v. Morales, No. D-2393
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Texas
    • January 12, 1994
    ...has broad discretionary power in his conduct of litigation to meet his legal obligations to defend the State. Terrazas v. Ramirez, 829 S.W.2d 712, 721 (Tex.1991); Maud v. Terrell, 109 Tex. 97, 200 S.W. 375 (1918). No party suggests the stipulations were anything but binding in this case, an......
  • Walker v. Packer, No. C-9403
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Texas
    • February 19, 1992
    ...the rule is little more than "how can we help those whom we want to help?" The only true precedent for this is Terrazas v. Ramirez, 829 S.W.2d 712 (Tex.1991), where Republican relators in redistricting were accorded relief in the Supreme Court never sought in any other forum. This "triple R......
  • Neeley v. West Orange-Cove, No. 04-1144.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Texas
    • December 16, 2005
    ...v. City of Austin, 7 S.W.3d 109, 115 (Tex.1999). 85. Vinson v. Burgess, 773 S.W.2d 263, 266 (Tex.1989). 86. Cf. Terrazas v. Ramirez, 829 S.W.2d 712, 717 (Tex.1991) ("Yet a court's duty to consider a party's constitutional challenge to a statute, never to be taken lightly, and the deference ......
  • Stephenson v. Bartlett, No. 94PA02.
    • United States
    • North Carolina United States State Supreme Court of North Carolina
    • April 30, 2002
    ...statute which transgresses constitutional mandates cannot be left without the means to order appropriate relief." Terrazas v. Ramirez, 829 S.W.2d 712, 718 (Tex.1991); see also Brooks v. Hobbie, 631 So.2d 883, 887-90 Plaintiffs contend that remedial compliance with the WCP requires the forma......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
103 cases
  • State v. Morales, No. D-2393
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Texas
    • January 12, 1994
    ...has broad discretionary power in his conduct of litigation to meet his legal obligations to defend the State. Terrazas v. Ramirez, 829 S.W.2d 712, 721 (Tex.1991); Maud v. Terrell, 109 Tex. 97, 200 S.W. 375 (1918). No party suggests the stipulations were anything but binding in this case, an......
  • Walker v. Packer, No. C-9403
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Texas
    • February 19, 1992
    ...the rule is little more than "how can we help those whom we want to help?" The only true precedent for this is Terrazas v. Ramirez, 829 S.W.2d 712 (Tex.1991), where Republican relators in redistricting were accorded relief in the Supreme Court never sought in any other forum. This "triple R......
  • Neeley v. West Orange-Cove, No. 04-1144.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Texas
    • December 16, 2005
    ...v. City of Austin, 7 S.W.3d 109, 115 (Tex.1999). 85. Vinson v. Burgess, 773 S.W.2d 263, 266 (Tex.1989). 86. Cf. Terrazas v. Ramirez, 829 S.W.2d 712, 717 (Tex.1991) ("Yet a court's duty to consider a party's constitutional challenge to a statute, never to be taken lightly, and the deference ......
  • Stephenson v. Bartlett, No. 94PA02.
    • United States
    • North Carolina United States State Supreme Court of North Carolina
    • April 30, 2002
    ...statute which transgresses constitutional mandates cannot be left without the means to order appropriate relief." Terrazas v. Ramirez, 829 S.W.2d 712, 718 (Tex.1991); see also Brooks v. Hobbie, 631 So.2d 883, 887-90 Plaintiffs contend that remedial compliance with the WCP requires the forma......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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