Another attempt to redraw political districts in Texas brings yet another appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of politicians are anxiously waiting to see if the nine judges in Washington will give them a fighting chance to keep or win a seat in the Texas House, Texas Senate or Congress. With dozens of incumbents retiring, the stakes are high and who ends up winning depends largely on what the final district maps look like.
One proposed map guarantees Republican dominance for the next 10 years. The other would likely give Democrats a big boost. And the Supreme Court could order a new, third version.
American politicians face this problem every 10 years when states redraw political maps based on the latest census. The state needs to ensure every political district has roughly the same number of people. Texas law gives that task to incumbent members of the Legislature, and they seize upon this rare opportunity to choose the voters they want. Since their first priority is to get re-elected, they draw their districts to suit them. Then the party in power usually tries to draw districts that will hurt their opponents.
To keep this process from being too unfair, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act in 1965 to make sure majority whites couldn’t draw districts that would hurt minorities. Texas is one of 16 states with a history of racism that can’t change any of its election laws or maps without getting preclearance from either the Department of Justice or the federal court in Washington.
Texas Republicans, who controlled the 2011 redistricting process, got to draw a map that adds four congressional seats in Texas because of population growth. The problem for Republicans, though, is that 67 percent of those new Texans are Hispanic or black, two groups that don’t traditionally vote for them. Nevertheless, they produced a map that would help Republicans.
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott didn’t think the Obama administration would approve the Republican-drawn maps, so he asked the federal court in Washington to approve them. After Justice Department lawyers argued the maps discriminated against minorities, the court scheduled a trial from Jan. 17-26, effectively putting the maps on hold.
Full Article: Redistricting creating chaos in 2012 primary – El Paso Times.