Menus Subscribe Search

Follow us


Supreme Court Calls For New Try on Texas Districts

• January 20, 2012 • 5:19 PM

Texas Republicans won Friday as the Supreme Court rejected a judicially drawn redistricting map, but not for the reasons you might think.

The U.S. Supreme Court has opted out of messing with Texas, at least for now. In a unanimous, unsigned decision, the judges avoided a variety of thorny  legal questions, vaguely asking for revisions to a redistricting map drawn by a panel of judges in San Antonio. At stake is the likely party alignment of four new congressional seats that were awarded to Texas after the 2010 census revealed significant, minority-driven population growth in the state. The Republican-controlled Texas state Legislature’s map all but ensured at least three of those new seats would be safely Republican, leading to 17(!) lawsuits and prompting the San Antonio judges to create a revision that would result in more likely Democratic seats.

With Nancy Pelosi’s quiet fundraising success bolstering the Democrats’ long-odds chances to take back the House (Dems would need to win 25 districts they don’t currently hold), having a shot at those four new seats in Texas could prove decisive in 2012. Some on the right are declaring modest victory after Friday’s ruling, while others on the left appear to be holding their fire until the court more directly addresses broader questions about race, congressional districting, and the Voting Rights Act’s purpose all these years later.

[class name="dont_print_this"]

By the Way

BY THE WAY
When news breaks, this blog shows that Miller-McCune has the topic covered.

[/class]

Commentators are generally interpreting the ruling cautiously, but have missed a larger point our own Justin Levitt, a law professor specializing in redistricting, made earlier this month when he urged the high court “not to micromanage the process.” To start from the beginning: The Texas legislature had the option to earn clearance for their map (mandated by the VRA for places like Texas with histories of egregious racial discrimination) from the Obama administration’s Department of Justice, or from a theoretically impartial panel of federal judges in D.C. that takes much longer to decide. The Supremes, in telling the San Antonio judges to defer more to the Legislature’s plan (even while criticizing both plans), has opened the door wider for more of today’s Republican-led state legislatures to opt for the slower D.C. panel instead of the DoJ — with confidence that any less-favorable interim maps created by local courts will not survive federal court, even with the added time pressure to have maps ready for the looming elections. The Republican-controlled Virginia state government, for example, has yet to submit its map for pre-clearance, and could follow this path.

In general, the window to challenge state legislatures’ maps has shrunk with Friday’s ruling, and that’s a bad thing for Democrats in the context of so many Republican statehouses.

Sign up for the free Miller-McCune.com e-newsletter.

“Like” Miller-McCune on Facebook.

Follow Miller-McCune on Twitter.

Add Miller-McCune.com news to your site.

Subscribe to Miller-McCune

Michael Fitzgerald
Michael Fitzgerald is an associate editor at Pacific Standard. He has previously worked at The New Republic and Oxford American Magazine.

More From Michael Fitzgerald

Tags: , , ,

If you would like to comment on this post, or anything else on Pacific Standard, visit our Facebook or Google+ page, or send us a message on Twitter. You can also follow our regular updates and other stories on both LinkedIn and Tumblr.

A weekly roundup of the best of Pacific Standard and PSmag.com, delivered straight to your inbox.

Follow us


Subscribe Now

Quick Studies

Hunger and Low Blood Sugar Can Spur Domestic Quarrels

In an experiment, scientists found a correlation between low blood glucose and higher levels of spousal frustration.

Your Brain Starts Faltering After You Reach Age … 24

Sorry to break it to you, TSwift. At least in terms of cognitive functioning while playing StarCraft 2, you're finished.

Cavemen Were Awesome Parents

Toy hand axes, rock bashing, and special burials indicate that Neanderthals were cooler parents than previously thought, according to a new theory.

Bringing a Therapy Dog Into a Children’s Hospital Might Be a Terrible Idea

Despite the popularity of animal therapy in American pediatric hospitals, a new research review reveals that there's little support for its health benefits.

You Feel Closer to Your Destination Even When You’re Not

Simply moving toward or away from something alters the way you think about it, according to a new study.

The Big One

One state—Pennsylvania—logs 52 percent of all sales, shipments, and receipts for the chocolate manufacturing industry. March/April 2014