Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott’s office on Friday slammed an interim redistricting map proposed by a three-judge panel in San Antonio, saying the federal jurists overstepped their bounds in redrawing House and Senate district lines that could cost Republicans a half-dozen seats next year.
“Contrary to (a) basic principle of federalism, the proposed interim redistricting plan consistently overturns the Legislature’s will where no probability of a legal wrong has been identified,” Lauren Bean, a spokeswoman for Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, said in a statement.
Texas Redistricting has all of the response briefs, including the whiny one from AG Abbott. The Statesman quotes him saying that a court’s job is to “apply the law, not make policy”. Funny, but that’s exactly what they did do. Texas’ maps violated federal law, and the court said No. It’s not that hard to understand.
The “court-ordered plans send a strong message that it will not accept the State’s excuses for reducing Latino voting strength,” Nina Perales, the lead attorney for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, said in a statement applauding the court-drawn maps released Thursday.
State Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, who chairs the largest organization of Hispanic lawmakers, could not be reached for comment. He told the Associated Press that the court’s proposal “reflects the natural demographic progression in a state that is changing day by day.”
Parties to the redistricting lawsuit had until noon Friday to file their responses to the judge’s interim map. The judges have not indicated when the will make a final decision on district lines.
Here’s MALDEF’s full statement, and here’s a Lone Star Project analysis of the court’s maps. In addition to a final ruling on what maps are to be used for the State House and State Senate, we are still awaiting a Congressional map. With the filing season set to open November 28, you have to figure we’ll get something Monday. There’s just not much time left.
We know we’re getting maps from the San Antonio court for this election, but what happens after the 2012 election is anybody’s guess, as far as I can tell. If the DC court eventually rules in Texas’ favor on preclearance, that would presumably pave the way for the legislatively drawn maps to be reinstated for the 2014 election. But the San Antonio lawsuit will still be litigated, and I have no idea which ruling might take precedence, or if it would all go to the Supreme Court as health care litigation has done with nothing really settled. If the DC court rules against the state on preclearance, I suppose it could let the San Antonio maps stand or draw its own. And of course, there’s nothing to stop the Lege from taking another crack at this in 2013, though any new maps they drew would still be subject to preclearance as well. It would not surprise me if we have one set of maps for 2012, a second set for 2014 after the two federal courts make their rulings, and a third set for 2016 after the Supreme Court settles it once and for all, or at least for the rest of the decade.
Anyway. Michael Li notes some objections to the court-drawn plans from African-American legislators, Greg takes a tour of some area districts, and Kos diarist W. Mayes has an exhaustive look at all 150 districts under H298. We’ll know soon enough how much of that will need to be modified. Finally, I only just now noticed that H298 moves me and most of the Heights into HD134, meaning that if this stands I now have a personal reason to help defeat Sarah Davis in 2012. I see a house party in my future.