TEXAS REDISTRICTING & ELECTION LAW

Updates about ongoing redistricting litigation in the Lone Star State and coverage of election law more generally. This website's goal is to try to make sure the redistricting process and litigation over voting law is as transparent and accessible as possible to the public. Hopefully, it will be of some use to a broad range of interested parties, both lawyers and non-lawyers. Have questions, comments, suggestions, additional content, or a redistricting joke (or two)? Feel free to contact me: Michael Li, michael.li@mlilaw.com, 202.681.0641.
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Court-drawn maps for the state house drew criticism yesterday from both the State of Texas and African-American plaintiffs.

The state accused the three-judge panel of ignoring principles of federalism and “overturn[ing] the Legislature’s will where no probability of a legal wrong has been identified.”  By doing so, the state said the court had “exceeded its mandate and actively engaged in policymaking,” resulting in a “proposed map that ignores countless policy choices hammered out through the legislative process over the course of the 2011 session.”

The state’s objection attached emails and written memos from approximately 20 members of the Legislature, including Democratic State Representatives Senfronia Thompson and Harold Dutton, raising issues about community splits and other concerns.  

The legislators’ issues run the gamut from concerns about the splitting of school districts to arguments about packing of Republicans under the map to concerns that the map weakened longstanding political coalitions in African-American districts “that [have] taken years to build.” They also included more prosaic objections the the court had removed key assets, such as hospitals and universities, from a member’s district.  

The NAACP also separately filed an objection raising concerns about the impact of the map on five African-American districts in Harris County (HD 139, 141, 142, 146, 147) as well as two current African-American seats in Dallas County (HD 100 and 109).  However, the NAACP expressed hope that “the court would permit a very brief period of time for [the NAACP] to propose a map using H298 but incorporating the necessary minor fixes to the map to ensure the protection of the interests of African-American voters.”

The state also filed an objection to the court’s proposed interim senate map.

No word yet on what the court’s next step will be.

The objections can be found here:

http://txredistricting.org/post/12972042441/comments-on-the-court-drawn-interim-maps