The recently dormant Texas redistricting issue woke up Thursday with a disagreement between the state’s attorney general and a Latino legislators’ group.
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has called on the Legislature to make the current — and interim — redistricting maps permanent.
Abbott’s letter to Texas House Speaker Joe Straus — which was dated March 8 and just uncovered by Michael Li, a redistricting expert and author of a redistricting blog — said if the interim maps become permanent, then further intervention from federal courts might not be necessary. That, Abbott’s letter said, could “ensure an orderly election without further delay or uncertainty.”
“Enacting the interim plans into law would confirm the Legislature’s intent for a redistricting plan that fully comports with the law, and will insulate the State’s redistricting plans from further legal challenge,” Abbott wrote.
The Mexican-American Legislative Caucus, or MALC for short, responded in a filing with the San Antonio federal court that approved the interim maps. MALC said the interim maps for the Texas House and the U.S. House of Representatives still might not comply with the U.S. Voting Rights Act.
“The attempt of the State of Texas to circumvent the judicial process through legislation that fails to provide a final remedial redistricting plan for Texas House and Texas Congressional Districts is even more reason for this Court to begin the process that will lead to a final and just remedial plan for future Texas elections,” MALC said in its filing.
Here’s the Texas Redistricting post the story refers to, and the MALC advisory that contains and objects to Abbott’s letter. I had previously noted the earlier Texas Redistricting post that pointed out the late-filed bills to make the interim maps permanent. At the time, I wondered if Republican Sen. Kel Seliger and Rep. Drew Darby had consulted with Abbott about this before they filed. Now I know. What’s curious about this is that Abbott’s intent in appealing the DC court’s ruling that denied preclearance to the Supreme Court was to get the original legislatively-drawn maps enacted for 2014. I’m not sure what he has in mind by changing direction in this way. Is it a hedge against a potentially adverse ruling from SCOTUS, or is there something else to it that I’m not seeing? Burka thinks he’s playing partisan games, but I still can’t see towards what end. Whatever the case, this also answers my question about whether the plaintiffs would accept that deal as insurance against Section 5 being gutted. I can’t wait to see what comes next.