Yesterday in the pre clearance trial on Texas redistricting we began to learn just how the Texas Republicans gamed the system in redistricting, Texas Senate GOP Map was Pre-cooked.
The email was written only hours after the Republican redistricting plan had been posted to the State’s redistricting website. It confirms that Texas Republican leaders had no intention of listening to or responding to any comments from the public or accepting any substantive amendments from Senate Members. [Emphasis added] It further acknowledges their worries that the plan does not comply with the Voting Rights Act and may not survive legal review.
As well as being introduced to a new acornym, OHRVS?: Republicans say the strangest things.
Redistricting is full of acronyms: CVAP (citizen voting age population), SSVR (Spanish surname voter registration), TO (turnout).
Well, one more has emerged an email that got turned over last week as part of the preclearance litigation in Washington – and it’s a doozy.
No, not the fishing supply shop used by noodlers. OHRVS stands for ‘Optimal Hispanic Republican Voter Strength,’ and it’s a measure devised by Republicans to calculate how simultaneously Hispanic and Republican they could make a district.
As explained in the email from Eric Opiela, counsel for the GOP congressional delegation, to mapdrawer Gerardo Interiano, the goal of the exercise was to “pull the district’s Total Hispanic Pop and Hispanic CVAPs [citizen voting age population] up to majority status, but leave the Spanish Surname RV [registered voters] and TO [turnout] the lowest.”
In other words: Mapdrawers were told – we want you to create districts that look Hispanic on paper but have a much lower chance for Hispanics to elect their candidate of choice.
While these developments make preclearance seem less likely, that was yesterday. Today SCOTUS rejected the court drawn interim maps, Supreme Court Nixes Judge-Drawn Redistricting Maps.
The Supreme Court, in a unanimous decision, set aside the court’s map. Another federal panel is holding hearings now on the legality of the Legislature’s maps under the federal Voting Rights Act. That case will go on, and that court’s decision, along with proceedings that follow in federal court in Texas, will decide the final maps, primary dates and so on.
The San Antonio panel didn’t use the Legislature’s maps because those hadn’t been pre-cleared, as required by the Voting Rights Act. Even so, the Supreme Court ruled, they should have used those maps as their starting point:
Section 5 prevents a state plan from being implemented if it has not been precleared. But that does not mean that the plan is of no account or that the policy judgments it reflects can be disregarded by a district court drawing an interim plan. On the contrary, the state plan serves as a starting point for the district court. It provides important guidance that helps ensure that the district court appro- priately confines itself to drawing interim maps that comply with the Constitution and the Voting Rights Act, without displacing legitimate state policy judgments with the court’s own preferences.
Local election administrators around the state have said they won’t be able to conduct April 3 primaries unless they have maps by the end of this month. The Washington court’s final arguments in the current case are set for Feb. 3, with the San Antonio proceedings to follow.
What this means is that Texas still has not current legal district lines (maps) for Congressional, or legislative (House and Senate) districts. It also sets back redistricting at the county level, whose lines can’t be drawn until the congressional and legislative districts are finalized. It now seems that an April primary in Texas is in serious doubt.
It will certainly be a challenge for the court to redraw districts that only impact a select few districts, as moving district lines has a “domino effect”. So again we wait. We wait for the preclearance trial to end and a verdict, and we wait for a new round or “interim” maps from the San Antonio federal court.
Anyone wanting to delve into the legal minutia on today’s ruling should read this, Splitting Hairs and Ducking Issues: The Supreme Court’s Texas Case, Likelihood of Success, and Reasonable Probability.
TDP Statement on SCOTUS Decision.
Some initial thoughts about the SCOTUS ruling.
Statement from Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott.
Kuff, SCOTUS issues ruling on redistricting.