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

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

Recent Posts

October 17 • 4:00 PM

What All Military Families Need to Know About High-Cost Lenders

Lessons from over a year on the beat.


October 17 • 2:00 PM

The Majority of Languages Do Not Have Gendered Pronouns

A world without “he.” Or “she.”


October 17 • 11:01 AM

How to Water a Farm in Sandy Ground

Physicists investigate how to grow food more efficiently in fine-grained soil.


October 17 • 10:00 AM

Can Science Fiction Spur Science Innovation?

Without proper funding, the answer might not even matter.


October 17 • 8:00 AM

Seattle, the Incredible Shrinking City

Seattle is leading the way in the micro-housing movement as an affordable alternative to high-cost city living.


October 17 • 6:00 AM

‘Voodoo Death’ and How the Mind Harms the Body

Can an intense belief that you’re about to die actually kill you? Researchers are learning more about “voodoo death” and how it isn’t limited to superstitious, foreign cultures.


October 17 • 4:00 AM

That Arts Degree Is Paying Off

A survey of people who have earned degrees in the arts find they are doing relatively well, although their education didn’t provide much guidance on managing a career.


October 16 • 4:00 PM

How (Some) Economists Are Like Doomsday Cult Members

Cognitive dissonance and clinging to paradigms even in the face of accumulated anomalous facts.


October 16 • 2:00 PM

The Latest—and Most Mysterious—Player in the Nasty Battle Over Net Neutrality

As the FCC considers how to regulate Internet providers, the telecom industry’s stealth campaign for hearts and minds encompasses everything from art installations to LOLcats.


October 16 • 12:00 PM

How Many Ads Is Too Many Ads?

The conundrum of online video advertising.


October 16 • 11:00 AM

Unlocking Consciousness

A study of vegetative patients closes in on the nature of consciousness.


October 16 • 10:00 AM

The False Promises of Higher Education

Danielle Henderson spent six years and $60,000 on college and beyond. The effects of that education? Not as advertised.


October 16 • 8:00 AM

Faster Justice, Closer to Home: The Power of Community Courts

Community courts across the country are fighting judicial backlog and lowering re-arrest rates.


October 16 • 6:00 AM

Killing Your Husband to Save Yourself

Without proper legal instruments, women with abusive partners are often forced to make a difficult choice: kill or be killed.


October 16 • 4:00 AM

Personality Traits Linked to Specific Diseases

New research finds neurotic people are more likely to suffer a serious health problem.


October 16 • 2:00 AM

Comparing Apples to the Big Apple: Yes, Washington, D.C., Is More Expensive Than New York City

Why shouldn’t distant locales tied to jobs in the urban core count in a housing expenditure study?


October 15 • 4:00 PM

Why Asian American Parents Are the Least Likely to Spank Their Kids

Highly educated, middle-class parents are less likely to use corporal punishment to discipline their children than less-educated, working-class, and poor parents.


October 15 • 2:00 PM

The Federal Government’s New Doctor Payments Website Is Worthy of a Recall

Charles Ornstein takes a test drive using the federal government’s new website for drug and device payments and finds it virtually unusable.


October 15 • 12:00 PM

How Cosmetic Companies Get Away With Pseudoscience

Anti-aging creams make absurd claims that they repair DNA damage or use stem-cell treatments. When cosmetics companies and dermatologists partner to maximize profits, who is responsible for protecting the consumer?


October 15 • 10:00 AM

What Big Data Can Tell Us About the Things We Eat

Pizza might be the only thing that can bring men and women together.


October 15 • 9:04 AM

‘Looking’ at Art in the Smartphone Age

Technology is a great way to activate gallery space, but it shouldn’t take it over.


October 15 • 8:00 AM

A Brief History of High Heels

How what was once standard footwear for 16th-century Persian horsemen became “fashion’s most provocative accessory.”


October 15 • 7:22 AM

Advice for Emergency Alert Systems: Don’t Cry Wolf

A survey finds college students don’t always take alerts seriously.


October 15 • 6:00 AM

The Battle Over High School Animal Dissection

Is the biology class tradition a useful rite of passage or a schoolroom relic?


October 15 • 4:00 AM

Green Surroundings Linked to Higher Student Test Scores

New research on Massachusetts schoolchildren finds a tangible benefit to regular exposure to nature.


Follow us


How to Water a Farm in Sandy Ground

Physicists investigate how to grow food more efficiently in fine-grained soil.

Unlocking Consciousness

A study of vegetative patients closes in on the nature of consciousness.

Advice for Emergency Alert Systems: Don’t Cry Wolf

A survey finds college students don't always take alerts seriously.

Brain’s Reward Center Does More Than Manage Rewards

Nucleus accumbens tracks many different connections in the world, a new rat study suggests.

A City’s Fingerprints Lie in Its Streets and Alleyways

Researchers propose another way to analyze the character and evolution of cities.

The Big One

One company, Amazon, controls 67 percent of the e-book market in the United States—down from 90 percent five years ago. September/October 2014 new-big-one-5

Copyright © 2014 by Pacific Standard and The Miller-McCune Center for Research, Media, and Public Policy. All Rights Reserved.