The Supreme Court decision striking down elements of the Voting Rights Act could lead to the Legislature implementing a 2011 redistricting plan that was deemed by federal judges to be discriminatory to Texas minority voters. Soon after Tuesday’s decision, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott said that the state’s voter identification plan would immediately take effect, requiring voters to show a photo ID at the polls. “Redistricting maps passed by the Legislature may also take effect without approval from the federal government,” he said. A spokesman for Abbott, a Republican, confirmed he was talking about the 2011 redistricting plan, which is under appeal before the Supreme Court. That plan would give Republicans even more strength in the U.S. House and the Legislature.
Last week, the Legislature approved the electoral boundaries used in 2012 for the Texas Senate, House and U.S. Congress. Action on the so-called interim maps was viewed as a way for Republicans to cut losses and endorse a plan crafted by federal judges, in the hopes that it would ultimately pass legal muster.
But removal of the pre-clearance provision gives Republicans the chance, if they want it, to return to the original maps.
First, Gov. Rick Perry would have to veto the districts approved this week. On Tuesday, Perry gave no indication what he would do. “The governor is reviewing the maps the Legislature sent to his desk,” said spokeswoman Lucy Nashed.
Democrats and minority groups said they were certain both sets of maps would be in trouble in court. But they expressed concern that Perry and Abbott would ditch the interim plan and push for the original map, which would wipe out a minority-dominated congressional district in North Texas and place state Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, in a district dominated by Republicans.