Another redistricting update

Once again from Russ Tidwell, writing at Letters from Texas.

The three judge federal panel in San Antonio is nearing a final decision on redistricting litigation for the Texas House and congressional delegation.

As previously discussed here, multiple weeks of trial have provided a mountain of evidence of intentional discrimination and dilution of the opportunity for minority citizens to elect the candidates of their choice. The post-trial briefs were filed in December.

However, it appears the panel in San Antonio was waiting for further guidance from the U.S. Supreme Court in the form of a ruling in an Alabama redistricting case. That ruling came down on March 25, and it was a victory for the Alabama Legislative Black Caucus and the Alabama Democratic Conference. The San Antonio panel immediately ordered the Texas litigants to file additional briefs in light of this ruling. The last of those was filed Monday.

The Alabama case involved claims of improper racial gerrymandering and provided significant clarification to this distinct line of case law stretching back to the Shaw case in North Carolina. While minority plaintiffs in Texas felt they had adequately proven their claims of vote dilution and intentional discrimination, this ruling provided an additional clear roadmap for successful resolution of their claims.


In response to the San Antonio panel’s order, attorneys representing the Perez Plaintiffs, LULAC, and the NAACP filed a brief outlining how the evidence already before the court supports racial gerrymandering findings under the Alabama opinion. The brief documents the plaintiffs’ claims in eleven state house districts in Dallas, Tarrant, Harris, McLennan, Bell and Fort Bend Counties. Reversing the fragmentation of these districts would re-enfranchise over 1.2 million people of color in these six counties.

While MALC’s brief was consistent with and supportive of the Perez/NAACP/LULAC filing, it made additional claims in Nueces, Midland/Ector and Lubbock Counties. They rightfully argue that the Voting Rights Act (VRA) and the Fourteenth amendment to the U.S. Constitution should override the state’s constitutional “county line rule”. This would provide for the creation of three additional majority Hispanic districts.

See here and here for some background, and here for the LULAC demonstration Congressional map. The main piece of news here is that the San Antonio panel is nearing a decision. I do wonder if there’s time for this case to make it through the process for the 2016 election – I mean, we’re seven months out from the filing deadline, and we’re barely down the road. Would we have another election under the current maps, or would we get a different map in the interim? At this rate there won’t be a whole lot of elections left before it’s time for the next set of maps to be drawn. We’ll know more when we hear from the court, I guess.

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One Response to Another redistricting update

  1. Mainstream says:

    I think you get less gerrymandering by keeping the county line rule, than by junking it. Look at what the NC legislature did when it ignored county boundaries in the formation of congressional districts, and you will see the mischief possible when strategists using current block by block census technology get to pick and choose their voters, unfettered by county borders.

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