A federal court is expected to rule soon on whether Texas intentionally discriminated against minorities and failed to draw enough minority-majority districts when it adopted its current congressional map. The decision could put a meaningful dent in the G.O.P.’s advantage in the House heading into next year’s midterm elections. In an oft-quoted Texas Tribune article, Republican lawyers have raised the possibility of an “Armageddon map” — one that endangered a half-dozen Republican districts, fully one-fourth of the 24 seats that Democrats need to retake the House in 2018. “Armageddon” might not be the likeliest outcome. But a victory for Texas Republicans might not be the likeliest outcome either.
The same federal court ruled in April that Texas violated the Voting Rights Act and the United States Constitution when it drew its initial congressional map in 2011. That 2011 map was never used; instead, the state adopted a temporary, court-drawn map in 2012 after extensive litigation and even a delay in the state primary. At issue now is whether the state discriminated in making the temporary, court-drawn map permanent.
Texas’ defense seems simple. How could it have discriminated in adopting a court-drawn map? The problem: Two of the districts found to be in violation in the April ruling were unchanged on the court-drawn map.