Today’s good reads on Texas redistricting

Posted in Around The State, Redistricting at 5:39 pm by wcnews

Via TPM, Election Lawyer: Supreme Court Hearing Texas Redistricting Case Shows Their Partisanship.

Gerry Hebert, an election lawyer in D.C. who is working for intervenors in the redistricting case, told TPM that the Supreme Court’s decision shows that they’re “just another governmental institution in Washington that’s highly partisan.”

Noting that the Supreme Court denied his request for a stay back in 2003 when he was representing Congressional Democrats in a case involving redistricting maps implemented withsupport from former Speaker of the House Tom DeLay, Hebert said that the federal court which tossed out the maps that weren’t precleared had “no other option than to do what it did.”

Hebert, who believes the maps drawn by Texas legislators were discriminatory, called the delay caused by the outstanding redistricting issue a “mess of their own making” and said Texas chose the “slowest possible alternative by going to court instead of DOJ.”

While there are several cases making their way through the courts about whether Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act (which requires certain areas of the country to have their ) is constitutional, Hebert said he believes the Supreme Court addressing the broader issue is “highly doubtful” but said “anything is possible with this crew.”

The Justice Department had argued that there was “ample circumstantial evidence” (includingemails) that the maps had the effect and intent of limiting the voting power of Hispanic voters.

The Houston Chronicle reports that Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott is going to ask a federal court to suspend the deadlines for the filing period for congressional and state House and Senate races.

Via SCOTUSblog, Texas voting in 2012: A three-court puzzle.

The three-court puzzle involves, in addition to the Supreme Court, two District Courts — one sitting in San Antonio, the other in Washington, D.C. The two lower courts have different tasks, but their actions have lately been overlapping; both have the authority to affect the choices that Texas’s voters will have when they go to the polls — first in March, if the present primary date still holds, and then in November, at the general election.


..further complicating factor is that all of these developments are moving very rapidly, and the calendar moves on in the election cycle with no imminent resolution in sight in any of the three pending proceedings in the three different courts. The fact is that three courts are moving the cases along but not one of them so far has found that the state legislature’s maps for the legislative and congressional districts are illegal, under any part of the federal Voting Rights Act. That issue hangs over all three proceedings.

And this from Robert Miler, SCOTUS Stays Interim Texas Maps.

A majority of the Supreme Court was required to issue the stay of the San Antonio court’s interim maps. The Supreme Court clearly recognizes the chaos this will cause with Texas’ scheduled March 6 primary, almost certainly resulting in a delay of some or all of the primary. I believe it highly unlikely that the Supreme Court will simply affirm the interim maps after its January 9 oral arguments. At this point, it appears that a majority of the Supreme Court intends to invalidate some or all of the San Antonio court’s interim maps.

The Supreme Court may also examine whether Section 5 of the VRA remains constitutional. The State of Texas has hinted at possibly bringing a constitutional challenge to Section 5 on the grounds that it usurps Texas’ sovereignty over its election system. Many observers believe that a majority of the Supreme Court has been waiting for a case to declare Section 5 of the VRA unconstitutional, and this may be it.

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