Three times in a matter of weeks, federal courts have found that Texas is intentionally discriminating against minority voters. Yet fixing problems with its voter identification law and its congressional and statehouse district maps isn’t on the Legislature’s front burner. In fact, it isn’t anywhere near the stove. This could come back to burn Texas. In the absence of legislative courage, the state could face a court-ordered redistricting or even a return to a requirement that it gain federal approval before changing any voting regulations.
We know what comes next: the hypocritical whines from a GOP-controlled House, Senate and governor’s office about how courts are trampling Texas’ redistricting authority. But foot-stomping is no answer in the face of these court rulings. Instead, Texas must fix an obvious wrong that goes beyond manipulating district lines for partisan political advantage into violations of fundamental voter rights.
Unfortunately, two bills to create independent commissions to reduce redistricting games — House Bill 369 by Rep. Donna Howard, D-Austin, and Senate Bill 209 by Sen. Royce West, D-Dallas — are stuck in committees. And there seems to be no appetite from Republican lawmakers to tackle this issue forthrightly.