July 22, 2006
Comments on redistricting maps filed

Friday was the deadline for parties in the redistricting lawsuit to files their comments on everyone else's plans, and the state-drawn Eviscerate Lloyd Doggett plan was heavily criticized by expected and unexpected sources.

"The state plan changes two or three districts by partisan makeup. It's a partisan get-even plan," said lawyer Rolando Rios, who represents the League of United Latin American Citizens.

"State Republican leaders chose to put a partisan agenda ahead of the interests of Hispanic voters, whose voting rights have been violated," said Ed Martin, a Democrat consultant and redistricting expert.

GOP Attorney General Greg Abbott and his assistants submitted the state map.

Abbott declined to respond beyond his solicitor general's prepared statement that defended the state's map as one that maintains partisan balance and reunites Webb County.

"It leaves 28 congressional districts completely untouched, and alters only District 23 and three adjoining districts," Texas Solicitor General Ted Cruz said.

However, a prominent Texas Republican consultant also blasted the state's proposal.

"I'm disappointed that the Republicans are using this as a cocktail party joke opportunity rather than to submit real evidence before real judges who are going to determine the future of our state," GOP consultant Royal Masset said. "The Republican plan makes no sense. It's not responsive to anything. It's like a political statement."


Trying to remove Doggett from Austin undermines the Republican argument for drawing fair districts, Masset said.

"All we did is draw a goofy map laughing at Lloyd Doggett," the Republican consultant said. "I don't know what they are accomplishing by this idiocy. There's no way in God's creation that the judges are going to approve a Republican map that doesn't have any Democratic congressmen in Travis County."

I've said this in a different context, but I'll repeat it here: No one can say for sure what the judges will do. I appreciate Masset's sentiments, and Lord knows I hope he's right, but I've been following this saga for too damn long to hang my hopes on anything as ephemeral as that.

One more point:

In addition to rejecting the state plan, LULAC also dismissed Bonilla's proposal as an "incumbent protection plan."

"Incumbency is something that should not even be considered by the court in fashioning a remedy," said Rios, LULAC's lawyer.

In an ideal world, perhaps that's how it should be, but if there's one thing the courts have consistently accepted as a valid purpose of redistricting, it's incumbent protection. That in and of itself is as good a reason as any to hope that the panel will reject the state's map. With all due respect to Attorney Rios, that argument isn't going to fly.

For more on this, BOR has the Lone Star Project response, which includes the briefs filed by the Jackson plaintiffs, and over at Kuff's World, I've got some comments by A.J. Pate, one of the private citizens who has filed a new map for the court to consider. The court will meet on August 3, and AG Greg Abbott has asked for a ruling by the 7th, which would be almost exactly identical to the lead time of the 1996 Vela v. Bush ruling. Stay tuned.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on July 22, 2006 to Killer D's | TrackBack

Three years ago, it was urgent for Tom DeLay and his GOP cronies to force a new redistricting process in the middle of the decade because the partisan makeup of Texas'congressional district did not reflect Texas voting patterns. It was outrage!, they argued.

Now, these same folks who were so worried about respecting voting patterns are proposing to divvy up Travis County -- a traditional Democratic bastion -- among three DeLay Republicans?

Masset is right to feel ashamed of his once great GOP. It is in the hands of zealots and mental midgets.

Posted by: Cafe Tortoli on July 22, 2006 5:28 PM