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Yet another redistricting update

Once again, I point you to Michael Li.

What’s next in the D.C. case?

Basically two things.

The first is that the D.C. panel will issue a memorandum opinion explaining in greater detail the reasons for its denial of summary judgment in favor of the state.

The opinion will include rulings on the standard for measuring whether a map results in retrogression- i.e., adversely impacts minorities’ “ability to elect” candidates of choice- as well as on how you gauge discriminatory intent.

Because the legal rulings on retrogression and discriminatory intent will interpret 2006 amendments to the Voting Rights Act for the first time in the redistricting context- and because the state has raised concerns about the continued constitutionality of the Voting Rights Act, many observers expect the court to spend some time crafting its opinion.

After that, the court will need to schedule a trial on preclearance, possibly after giving the parties more time for pre-trial discovery.  At the trial, the parties will put on evidence about the impact of the maps on minority voting strength and on discriminatory intent, with the state bearing the burden of proof.

Don’t expect a trial until some time next year.

Meanwhile, back in San Antonio, the key issues the court is grappling with are population deviations, and whether they should use the current maps or the state’s proposed maps as starting points.

When drawing maps for the state house and state senate, the state utilized a rule allowing the size of districts to vary by 10% top to bottom.

Plaintiffs in the San Antonio case allege the state impermissibly used this rule to overpopulate minority, and in particular Latino districts, to avoid having to draw additional minority opportunity districts, and, in the preclearance case in Washington, the Justice Department has cited to the use of population deviations as possible evidence of discriminatory purpose.

Now that the court is drawing interim maps, the question has become whether the court should ‘zero out’ the population deviations (i.e., create equally sized districts, as is already required for congressional districts).

The state argues that the court’s remedial power is limited to fixing those problems necessary to address “specific violations of federal law.”

Click over for the arguments and the briefs, and go read the first post as well. The DC court’s next action is significant, but otherwise everything feels like it’s in a holding pattern until the San Antonio court produces some interim maps. I think there’s a lot of pent up candidate activity that’s waiting to see what’s what.

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