Stephen Green laments a federal court ruling upholding the Texas legislature’s mid-decade redrawing of its congressional districts.
What the Republicans have done is throw away 200-plus years of national precedent: we only redistrict after a census. Should the Democrats take charge, even for a single session, you can bet they’ll go for some sweet, sweet payback.
Short term gain: Republicans will get 5-7 new safe seats in Texas.
Long-term loss: This will come back to bite them on the ass.
Damage done: Now every state will be going through nasty redistricting fights, every time the majority changes. Currently, we only have to go through these fights every ten years, and usually only in states which gain or lose seat in Congress. “Now,” said the sage, “things will be worse.”
States are required to redraw their congressional and legislative district lines every 10 years following the census. In 2001, Texas Democrats and Republicans could not agree on a plan, throwing the issue into federal court, where a three-judge panel crafted the existing congressional districts that were used in the 2002 elections.
Democrats emerged from the 2002 elections with a 17-to-15 advantage in the state’s delegation to the U.S. House of Representatives. But the same year Republicans took complete control of the state legislature, allowing them to enact new district lines that favor the GOP.
So, while unusual, the 2003 re-redistricting was the first legislatively created one ratified by the courts.