June 25, 2013

SCOTUS tells Perry, Abbott: Redistrict away!

The Supreme Court did not officially junk the preclearance provisions of the Voting Rights Act, but it did say the 2006 update, used to guide preclearance, is out of date.

(And, Texas AG Greg Abbott has wasted no time in noting this applies to voter ID law in Texas, as well as redistricting.)

While the Court did not specify how this would affect cases such as Texas' redistricting, I would think the takeaway is redistrict away until Congress follows SCOTUS' suggestion and does a better update than the latest renewal of the act in 2006, in line with more current demographics.

Likelihood of the current House doing this? Zero. 

So, do preclearance cases sit in limbo? Use older, pre-2006 guidelines for now, or what?

This is typical of the Roberts Court on cases like this, just like the ID provisions case in Arizona decided earlier this month. Once again, it's telling Congressinoal conservatives, "Write a bill like this!"

Likelihood of the House doing that, and gutting the VRA in the guise of updating it? High. 

The real solution, as I've blogged before, is to nationalize Section 5. That's what should have been done from the start, but northern "machine" Democrats of big cities, and northern suburban moderate Republicans alike didn't want to address racial issues in voting in their backyard at the time. Technically, SCOTUS struck down Section 4, as the New York Times story on the ruling notes, but, properly nationalizing Section 5 would include Section 4. That, in turn, gets at how this is, in essence, a legal memo from Roberts saying "Do this!"

Anyway, Gov. Rick Perry and Attorney General Greg Abbott are certain to treat this as a green light for pushing every possible envelope on Texas' redistricting ideas. 

And, the Dallas Morning News, whose editorial pages have gotten reasonably better, in fits and starts, over the last couple of decades, is moronic on this issue. The Snooze's editorial board is clueless of how this fits into a Roberts Court pattern of legislative directives from the bench, while inviting actions like Abbott's until the "right" legislative directive gets written. Scotusblog also recognizes the other "obvious" issue which the Snooze misses, and which I touch on above, and that's that Sections 4 and 5 are intertwined.

The only silver lining is that this may ("may," I said!) help Battleground Texas actually turn the state a little less red. But, as I've noted here, BG and the Texas Democratic Party need to do more than just boost Hispanic turnout.

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