Texas Gerrymandering Case Moves to the Supreme Court

26 April, 2018, 00:43 | Author: Clarence Schmidt
  • Supreme Court to consider Texas redistricting

"It was preliminary, as opposed to permanent", he said of the court-drawn maps.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said after the oral arguments that Texas and the DOJ "presented powerful oral arguments in defense of Texas' redistricting maps, and I anticipate a favorable decision".

Minority advocacy groups did not like those 2011 maps, and said they were deliberately created to negatively affect African American and Latino voters.

After three election cycles that used the interim maps it had drawn, the district court ruled that they were flawed.

So after all these years, it's not surprising many Texans feel like Lelena Fisher, a graphic designer from Austin.

When the challengers' attorneys stepped up, the conservative justices zeroed in on whether the Texas legislature had been given the presumption of good faith in the district court's finding that it still acted with a discriminatory intent when adopting the interim map.

Congressman represent your voice when they go to Washington D.C., but civil rights groups in Texas said certain district boundaries are drawn to break up the black and Latino population, lowering their chances to be represented. "Aren't we obligated to look at the full picture?" The district court issued no injunction against the Texas legislature.

"Adopting a court-ordered remedial plan is evidence that the Legislature acted in good faith", Keller said.

Although the Texas redistricting battle has not challenged the right of lawmakers to determine the political boundaries of their states, it illustrates a broader nationwide frustration with a process that has increasingly come under fire.


The civil rights groups counter that the new maps left unchanged numerous challenged state and congressional districts that the lower courts found unconstitutional. He says what Texas is doing is illegal. The groups suing the state say Republicans drew voting lines that take power away from minority voters.

But some of the justices were concerned that following Texas' reasoning would lead the court's inbox to be flooded with appeals of lower court decisions.

If it does take the case, the court can itself order redistricting and measures to counter other alleged discriminatory practices, or it can side with the state in saying that the 2013 provisional plan fixed the problem. But they had to grapple with how to redraw the political maps to account for the state's growth when demographics were shifting against them. Texas' 35th Congressional District is a prime example.

"Specifically the 27th Congressional District, which includes Corpus Christi and the surrounding area, as well as one other district that is now represented by Lloyd Doggett, a portion of which is Austin and it stretches all the way down to the Mexican border", political and legal analyst Bill Chriss said.

And the stakes are high, too, since the case involves whether Republican redistricting in Texas was motivated by racial discrimination or pure politics.

Large swaths of the state from Dallas to San Antonio out towards El Paso have had their congressional and state House districts disputed since 2011. He asked one of the attorneys arguing for the challengers whether after the district court's ruling the legislature could still use the plan for the 2018 elections.

Among the high court's options are to either take jurisdiction over the case and rule on its various procedural and substantive questions, or return the case to a district court in Texas for further review. Texas was, in effect, appealing the district court's request that it show up in court with proposals to fix its maps. What about the process question - will the Supreme Court declare that they can judge this case?

No matter what the justices decide, Garza said, "the door is closing pretty fast".

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