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Challenging the interim maps

One of the questions that came out of Tuesday’s redistricting preclearance ruling was whether or not it would affect the interim maps for this year. Some of the intervenors have asked the San Antonio judges about that.

Several key minority and Democratic groups took a first step Wednesday toward challenging Texas’ interim redistricting maps, put in place for the 2012 election, by filing a request for a preliminary hearing in federal court.

The motion came a day after a federal judge panel in Washington, D.C., struck down redistricting maps passed by the Texas Legislature, citing evidence that the maps were crafted with a discriminatory intent and would illegally reduce the ability of minority communities to select their representation.

While those maps never took effect, the interim maps that were drawn by a panel of three federal judges in San Antonio for the 2012 election had to be based on the Legislature’s now-rejected maps.

“Over 90 percent of the map is the legislative map, that has been found to be illegal,” said Luis Vera, an attorney with the League of United Latin American Citizens. “You can’t have an election with an illegal map.”

He added: “That’s our objective — to get lines drawn that are legal, that are constitutional and that comply with the D.C. order.”

The filing asks the panel of three federal judges that drew the interim maps to convene for a status conference at the earliest practicable date.

The three-judge panel in San Antonio has set a status conference for this afternoon, but it doesn’t sound like they’re inclined to take action. I suppose it’s theoretically possible to do something for a couple of the districts, and Lord knows it’s galling to have to hold even one election under a map that was based on that illegal, discriminatory mess that the Lege produced, but it sure seems like a high hurdle to overcome. We’ll what the judges say, but I’m not expecting anything.

UPDATE: According to the Chron, the judges have ruled that the interim maps will remain in place for November.

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