January 07, 2004
Panel Upholds GOP redistricting

The Houston Chronicle reports that a three-judge federal panel has upheld the Texas GOP's redistricting plan. The plan alters the currently gerrymandered districts into one which is more in line with the state's voting patterns. Despite the fact that every statewide office is held by a Republican, and about 60% of the state votes for Republican senators and presidential candidates, the current house delegation is 17-15 in favor of Democrats. The new plan creates a map that is expected to change that to a 22-10 Republican delegation.

As can be expected, the congressional Dems are foaming at the mouth:

"By judicial fiat, a three-judge federal panel has effectively repealed the Voting Rights Act and turned back the clock on nearly 40 years of progress for minority voters," said U.S. Rep. Martin Frost, D-Dallas.

Not mentioned in the Houston article is the fact that Frost's district is divided into five GOP districts in the new plan, so he's just a bit perturbed. (That information can be found in this article from the Dallas Morning News ; registration required.)

Even if the the Dems get four Supreme Court judges to agree to hear the case, it is likely that the new map will be used in the upcoming election. In any case, it's funny to see Eddie Bernice Johnson arguing against the redistricting. Discussing redistricting in the 90's, she said:

[The redistricting process] "is not one of kindness. It is not one of sharing. It is a power grab."

Now that her party is not doing the grabbing, she's bent out of shape. Tough.

(UPDATE: Jim Miller sent me an e-mail pointing out that only four SCotUS justices are required to accept a review, not five. I have updated the post accordingly.)

posted on January 07, 2004 06:31 AM


Now that her party is not doing the grabbing, she's bent out of shape.

Exactly. In the 120 years that Texas Democrats had been in the majority and drawing the lines as they saw fit, Texas Republicans never once fled the state to break quorum on their gerrymandering bills.

That said, I do wish there was some fair way to avoid this kind of partisan play with congressional districts.

posted by Haws on January 10, 2004 08:20 PM

All three judges on the panel suggested that congress pass some sort of amendment to prevent this event from occurring again. My take is that it is a power grab by the GOP, but it remedies all the gerrymandering in the past by the Democrats. This case (and the similar Pennsylvania case) were caused, in part, by the bizarre complications created by the concept of "majority minority" districts, and the laws that prevent diluting (ie lowering the minority population of) such districts, heedless of the concepts of compactness, contiguity, and shared interests. The four districts in the southeast corner of the state are an example, yet the Dems screaming about them didn't bat an eye over North Carolina's 12th district (created to elect a black candidate) or the truly bizarre boundaries created in the 90's in Southeast Florida (designed to protect incumbents while simultaneously creating several minority majority districts).

posted by timekeeper on January 11, 2004 06:49 AM

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