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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Today’s Senate redistricting committee hearing brought a bit of back and forth on blocker bills, statewide hearings, and other special session procedural issues.

At this juncture, since redistricting is being done again in a special session, it may be worth looking back at what the D.C. court said about the 2011 special session on congressional redistricting when finding that the congressional map had been drawn with discriminatory intent.

 [T]he sequence of events leading to the passage of the Congressional Plan also supports an inference of discriminatory purpose. Black and Hispanic members of Congress testified that they were completely excluded from the process of drafting new maps, while the preferences of Anglo member were frequently solicited and honored. The Texas House and Senate redistricting committees released a joint congressional redistricting proposal for public view only after the start of a special legislative session, and each provided only seventy-two hours’ notice before the sole public hearing on the proposed plan in each committee. Minority members of the Texas legislature also raised concerns regarding their exclusion from the drafting process and their inability to influence the plan via amendments. 

Lastly, procedural and substantive departures from the normal decisionmaking process raise flags. Citing failure to release a redistricting proposal during the regular session, the limited time for review, an the failure to provide counsel with the necessary election data to evaluate VRA compliance, the Senate redistricting committee’s outside counsel described the proceedings as quite difference from what we’ve seen in the past.’

The court went on to add in a footnote:

The parties have provided more evidence of discriminatory intent than we have space, or need, to address here. Our silence on other arguments, such as potential discriminatory intent in the selective drawing of CD 23 and failure to include a Hispanic ability district in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, reflects only reflects this, and not our view on the merits of these additional claims.

The original text, with record citations, can be found on pages 41-42 of the court’s opinion.