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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The third in a series about remaining disputes over the Texas maps.

The second article in this series looked at disputes over Travis County - or, more specifically, the dismantling of the old CD-25, previously represented by Congressman Lloyd Doggett.

But if the court were to restore a Travis County-centered district, what would become of the current Hispanic opportunity district  (CD-35) - drawn by the Texas Legislature and incorporated into the court’s second interim map - once the populous Hispanic parts of Travis County are removed? 

The joint map advisory filed by 6 of 8 plaintiff groups has suggested at least a couple of options.

The San Antonio-north district (Plan C220)

The first and probably most straightforward option would be an alignment similar to that in the first court-drawn interim map (Plan C220).  

Under that original court plan, the portions of Travis County included in what is today CD-35 instead would have been used to anchor a compact crossover district in Travis and Hays counties (including the bulk of the City of Austin):

However, the plan also would have maintained a version of CD-35 as a Hispanic opportunity district in Central Texas - deferring to the Texas Legislature’s decision to base one of the state’s four new congressional districts in Central Texas.

Like the existing CD-35, the district under the court’s Plan C220 would have an anchor in Bexar County and run northward but with an alignment running slightly further to the east - taking in portions of Guadalupe County and all of Caldwell County.  

More importantly because the district would not have included populous parts of Travis County, it would take in a larger portion of Bexar County - displacing Congressman Henry Cuellar’s CD-28 from Bexar County in this iteration.

And for the politically minded, it would reduce from four to three the number of Hispanic opportunity districts covering a part of Bexar County under the current interim map.

To compare:

CD-35 in the current interim map (Plan C235) -

CD-35 in the original interim map (allowing a Travis County fix) (Plan C220) -

Plan C220 forms the basis for the Central Texas portions of Plan C236 proposed this session by State Rep. Yvonne Davis (D-Dallas). 

The Nueces district (Plan C166 & Plan C164)

As an alternative, the parties’ joint advisory also suggested the possibility of moving the district to South Texas where it would run from Nueces County to Cameron County along the US/Mexico border.  An example of such a district was CD-27 in Plan C166. (The numbering gets a bit confusing on the maps because the map proposals date from 2011 and used different numbers for districts. For present purposes, just accept the districts as illustrations of concepts.)

Proponents of this solution say that it would address the issue of “more than 200,000 Latinos in Nueces County” being  ”isolated in the new [current] Anglo-dominated CD27” when that district shifted from running southward from Nueces County in the pre-2011 map to northward under the Texas Legislature’s plan (incorporated without change by the court into its second interim plan).  

Under the South Texas option, the parts of Bexar County that currently are in CD-35 would instead be redistributed into other South and West Texas oriented Hispanic opportunity districts.

Unlike the northward looking Plan C220, however, the Plan C166 fix would preserve four Hispanic opportunity districts covering at least a portion of Bexar County. Again from Plan C166:

CD-33 in Plan C164 proposed by State Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer (D-San Antonio) is another variant of a coastal South Texas opportunity district for Hispanics incorporating the bulk of Nueces County.