A special panel of three federal judges in Washington denied Texas’ request for approval of its redistricting plan, finding in an August 28 ruling that the state failed to show that the proposed changes to voting districts “were not enacted with a discriminatory purpose.”

Texas is one of a group of states with a history of voter discrimination that’s considered a “covered jurisdiction” under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, meaning that the U.S. attorney general or the D.C. federal court has to approve any changes to the voting system, including redistricting.

In light of a population boom over the past decade, state officials drew new boundaries for state and congressional voting districts. They submitted the plan for approval by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia in July 2011 and, after the court denied Texas summary judgment, heard arguments at a trial in January.

In today’s opinion, the court found that Texas’ redistricting plans for state and congressional races violated the requirements of Section 5.

Judge Thomas Griffith of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and U.S. District Judges Rosemary Collyer and Beryl Howell heard the case.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott said in a statement this afternoon that he plans to appeal the court’s decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Contact Zoe Tillman at ztillman@alm.com.