The San Antonio court entered an order [Tuesday] allowing the Justice Department into the Texas redistricting case as an intervenor.
In somewhat of a surprise, however, the decision was 2-1, with Circuit Judge Jerry Smith dissenting.
The court majority – consisting of Judge Orlando Garcia and Judge Xavier Rodriguez – ruled that the Justice Department met the standards for intervention under the ‘government officer or agency’ provisions of Rule 24 and that the request was not untimely since:
Although the proposed Complaint in Intervention asserts claims under § 2 of the Voting Rights Act and the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments, the United States’ interest lies primarily in the § 3(c) relief tied to those claims, and its effect on the United States’ administration of § 5. Prior to the decision in Shelby County, there was no need for consideration of § 3(c) because Texas was automatically covered by § 5 … [B]efore Shelby County, the United States’ interest was focused on the § 5 litigation in the D.C. Court … However, after Shelby County, circumstances changed significantly, since § 3(c) became an issue for the first time … The United States has a direct interest in the construction and application of § 3(c) that was not present until after the Shelby County ruling.
Judge Smith dissented, arguing that DOJ’s request to intervene was untimely since it filed a statement of interest in the case in the fall of 2011 in the context of hearings to draw interim maps but “made no effort to intervene” at that time.
Seems pretty straightforward to me. All parties have until October 9 to submit their proposed trial schedules. Interestingly enough, even David Dewhurst thinks the court will make changes to the House and Congressional maps. Maybe someone in the AG’s office should heed that and start talking settlement. Texas Politics and BOR have more.