August 28, 2012

Texas 'discriminatory' redistricting gets court smackdown

And, now we know why the Texas GOP wanted to separate the earlier redistricting ruling on interim redistricting from Voting Rights Act issues. The DC Circuit Court of Appeals says the redistricting maps don't pass muster, not at all. In fact, the court's full opinion mentions "retrogression" and "discriminatory intent."

For example, in discussing Congressional redistricting:
(W)e agree that the plan was enacted with discriminatory purpose.
Indeed. The court goes on to cite specific instances, with folks like Sheila Jackson Lee and Al Green.

But, assuming that SCOTUS doesn't intervene, the new Congressional, state House and state Senate seats will remain in place for two years, and it will be harder to eject first-time newcomers from places like the conservative-driven U.S. House District 25.

That said, though it was a borderline correct call SCOTUS did intervene over the San Antonio district court panel's original ruling in the interim redistricting, and also forced it to delink from Voting Rights Act preclearance issues.

Anyway, as I said months ago, due to that delinkage, this ruling today may be a fairly hollow victory for Democrats, minorities and electoral justice. But wingnuts like Greg Abbott won't settle for partial wins.

Beyond that, the loser is the Texas taxpayer whom the Texas GOP falsely claims to love. Because of this ruling, if it stands, next year's Legislature will have to start over from ground zero. The interim maps cannot be used as a starting point. And, the GOP is probably likely to try to get away with something again, especially if Romney is elected. So, we'll waste more taxpayer money on more court battles, more state redistricting experts, etc.

Update: I may, just may, have spoken too soon on the interim maps issue. At National Journal, Michael Li says the San Antonio court, time-pressed as it might be, could indeed decide to take today's ruling into account.

Update, Aug. 30: And, what's no surprise, either, Texas voter ID law has also gotten a smackdown in appeals court.

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