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Federal judge rejects Hispanic challenge to Farmers Branch election system

[JURIST] A judge in the US District Court for the Northern District of Texas [official website] on Tuesday dismissed a suit filed by three Hispanic residents of the Dallas suburb of Farmers Branch [official website] to change the city council election voting system from at-large to district-based, a shift they say would result in more attention to Hispanic interests on city council. Judge Reed O’Connor, dismissed the suit for lack of proof required by the Fourteenth Amendment and the federal Voting Rights Act [text]. AP has more.

In November 2006, Farmers Branch city council passed Ordinance 2903 [JURIST report] restricting access to housing for illegal immigrants and placing the burden of proof on landlords to screen their tenants. That ordinance was challenged [JURIST report] in federal court by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) [official website] and the Texas ACLU [official website]. In January 2008, the city passed Ordinance 2952 [JURIST report], shifting the burden of proof to authorities but accomplishing mostly the same effects on monitoring the immigration status of tenants. In May, the court issued a permanent injunction [opinion, PDF; JURIST report] on Ordinance 2903, declaring it unconstitutional, and declined to declare Ordinance 2952 constitutional.

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