TEXAS DEMOCRATS LOSE IN COURT

ABCNEWS/AP reports,

A three-judge federal appeals panel on Friday dismissed a lawsuit filed by Democrats in the state Senate who had hoped to derail a new round of Republican-led congressional redistricting in Texas.

The Democrats argued that Senate rule changes by Republicans to further the redistricting effort violated federal law. The judges, who listened to two hours of arguments Thursday in Laredo, dismissed those claims.

The ruling represented another setback for Democrats who have been fighting for several months to thwart GOP efforts to redraw the state’s congressional map. They say it would hurt minority representation in Congress.

What the Texas Republicans are doing is certainly within their prerogative, so this is the correct ruling. I continue, however, to believe that mid-cycle redistricting is a violation of the norms of politics that have evolved over the years and sets a horrible precedent.

FILED UNDER: US Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. I’m all for anything that either (a) gets the Supreme Court to finally have the guts to declare that blatant partisan gerrymandering is as unconstitutional on equal protection grounds as blatant racial gerrymandering or (b) makes Congress repeal the single-member district requirement for House districts (which makes these absurd gerrymanders possible in the first place).

  2. JohnC says:

    I think (a) is impossible, unless politics as we know it somehow miraculously disapears.

    Your (b) intrigued me, though. So I looked that up on the web, and at first blush sounds like a very good idea. I had no idea about any of the history of this topic, nor the thinking on alternatives to solving this ugly problem.

    Many thanks.

  3. James Joyner says:

    Chris,

    Interesting. The Constitution certainly grants a lot of latitude in this area. Art. I., Sec. 4 prescribes only that,”The times, places and manner of holding elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each state by the legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by law make or alter such regulations, except as to the places of choosing Senators.”

    But I’m not sure what you’d have instead of single member districts? Going to any at-large method of voting would tend to dilute the voting power of minorities and the rural areas. You could well have several representatives from the state’s dominant metro area getting elected. And proportional representation has its own nightmares.

  4. Steven says:

    The only reason I don’t have a large problem with the re-districting at this juncture, is because the current plan was court-ordered, rather than legislatively decided. It seems reasonable that the legislature should have the right to revisit the issue after the stalemate in the prior session.

  5. I don’t think pure PR would be the right approach; something like Germany’s top-up PR would be sufficient (with 1/2 or more of the seats being single-member, the rest allocated by PR with a correction for the disproportionality of the SMD results). If you’re scared of the Greenies or the Libertarians getting seats, make the threshold 20% or so.

    It might not eliminate all gerrymanders (I could still see racial or ethnic ones happening), but I think it would undermine the sort of partisan gerrymanders that the big states are notorious for, and I suspect we’d see a lot fewer monolithic state delegations like Massachussetts’.