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Redistricting subpoena contested

Reps. Tom DeLay and Joe Barton are contesting the subpoena that they were issued to testify about their roles in redistricting.

Attorneys for DeLay, R-Sugar Land, and U.S. Rep. Joe Barton, R-Ennis, filed a motion in U.S. district court in Marshall, urging a three-judge federal panel to quash subpoenas for the congressmen’s depositions. The panel is to begin a combined trial of several anti-redistricting suits in Austin on Dec. 11.


In their motion to quash, attorneys Bobby R. Burchfield of Washington and Jonathan D. Pauerstein of San Antonio said no court had ever compelled a member of Congress to submit to a deposition in a redistricting case.

“The opportunity to place members under oath and question them regarding their political strategy and that of their political party would provide a fertile field for abuse,” they said.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but the mid-decade re-redistricting that DeLay urged and abetted is equally unprecedented, so this argument falls flat to me. As for the question of what he could be compelled to talk about, that can be limited by the judge. I see no reason why he shouldn’t be made to answer questions about his actions in this case.

Democratic lawyer Gerald Hebert said DeLay’s “deposition is clearly legally significant to this case because, unlike any member of Congress in any prior redistricting process, he unquestionably played the central role in Texas redistricting in 2003.”

He continued: “Without Tom DeLay, Texas redistricting would never have happened in 2003, and this specific map would never have been enacted into law.”

I agree, and I hope the federal court does as well.

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  1. Steve Bates says:

    Let me get this straight…

    DeLay, a Republican congressman, claims he is not obliged to answer a legal subpoena. Cheney, a Republican (pseudo-) vice president, claims he is not obliged to deliver documents. And former Judge Roy Moore, a Republican judge, is still convinced he was not obliged to obey a court order.

    SO… no Republican officeholder is ever obliged to answer to the law?

    Have I got it right?

  2. Linkmeister says:

    Since when is requiring depositions reserved for Bill Clinton alone? Oh, right; since 2000. My bad.

  3. Beldar says:

    Good piece, Kuff, as always. My take, which might surprise you, I’ll put on my own bandwidth and trackback to here.

  4. BeldarBlog says:

    Tom DeLay as Brer Rabbit: “Don’ make me talk ’bout dat redistrictin’, judge!”

    Charles Kuffner urges that the lawyers representing various plaintiffs in the Texas redistricting litigation be allowed to take depositions of US Congressmen Tom DeLay and Joe Barton. The Congressmen are seeking to have their deposition subpoenas quash…