We still have a few more days at least before we get some kind of resolution over the maps we will be using for this election.
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott on Monday asked the U.S. Supreme Court to stop the implementation of interim maps for congressional and state legislative districts, arguing the three-judge panel that drew the maps overstepped their legal bounds.
“Today’s appeal emphasizes that no court has, at any time, found anything unlawful about the redistricting maps passed by the Texas Legislature,” Abbott said in a statement. He called the court-drawn maps “judicial activism at its worst.”
Democratic lawmakers and minority rights groups involved in the redistricting lawsuits assailed the state’s quest for Supreme Court intervention.
“It’s the same old tired arguments that have been made by the state of Texas that completely misapply Supreme Court precedent,” said Jose Garza, the lead attorney for the Mexican American Legislative Caucus, referring to the San Antonio federal panel’s recent denial of the state’s request to stay the court drawn-maps. The panel criticized the state’s lawyers for misinterpreting key case law.
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia asked groups in the dispute to respond to the state’s request by Thursday.
Abbott’s request coincided with the first day for candidates to file paperwork to run for office in the districts determined by the court-drawn maps.
Redistricting trial observers question whether Abbott’s argument will appeal to Supreme Court justices who rejected similar arguments made by Democrats and minority groups against the redistricting maps backed by then-House Majority Leader Tom DeLay in 2004.
Michael Li, who is quoted in the story on that subject, has more to say here and here; apparently someone forgot to remind Burka about the 2004 stay request. Something that I don’t think has been sufficiently emphasized is this: Abbott and other Republicans base their claims in part on the fact that the court-drawn maps are significant departures from the Legislative maps. But the court didn’t base their map on the 2011 plans, because those plans have not been precleared. They based them on the last legal maps, which is to say the maps used in the 2010 election. Those maps, properly adjusted for population and demography, led to the court-drawn maps. Abbott complains that the court ignored the will of the Lege, but if the will of the Lege was to draw maps that violated the Voting Rights Act, what else is the court to do? How much deference does an illegal map deserve? The court’s answer is apparently “not much”, and while one may disagree with the conclusion, I don’t see any logical contradiction.
Anyway. SCOTUS will do what SCOTUS will do, but it seems to me that it will likely decide that its proper role is to wait for the appeal after the trials have run their course. For sure, there’s a considerable cost at this point in calling a halt and declaring a do-over. We’ll know soon enough if they agree with me. The Trib has more.