If you’re a Republican involved in redistricting and you’ve begun to wonder why you ever took AG Greg Abbott’s legal advice on redistricting, I can’t blame you.
All spring, Attorney General Greg Abbott had argued to Perry, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and House Speaker Joe Straus that the Legislature should adopt as its own work product the temporary maps put in place by the appellate court for the 2012 elections. As he wrote to Straus on March 8: “The best way to avoid further intervention from federal judges in the Texas redistricting plans, and ensure an orderly election without further delay or uncertainty, is to enact the interim maps.”
Doing so, he said, “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’s promise was especially appealing to Dewhurst, since the redistricting lawsuit postponed the 2012 Republican Primary until June, a delay most political observers say cost him the U.S. Senate race against Ted Cruz.
Judge Rodriguez’s remarks, however, cast doubt on the advice in Abbott’s letter. If the interim maps do not correct all legal defects, then what will the special session accomplish?
As Texas Redistricting pointed out a little while ago, Abbott has been pretty consistently wrong throughout the process. As I noted around the same time, Abbott’s first priority all along has been politics, and good political strategy doesn’t always align with sound legal advice. And as Greg noted in Monday’s House hearing liveblog, Abbott’s unwillingness to have his office available to answer questions during these hearings has put the Republicans in numerous uncomfortable and untenable positions that will likely come back to bite them in the courtroom. All in all, a pretty impressive performance.