To prevent gerrymandered districts, a coalition of civil and voting rights groups wants Texas citizens to draw the state’s electoral maps. For seven years, the state of Texas has defended its statehouse and congressional maps against allegations that they were drawn in 2011 with the purpose of minimizing the voting power of African-Americans and Latinos. This week, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case for the second time, and if the justices side with the map’s challengers, they could hear the case again before it’s resolved.
Members of the coalition say there’s a way to avoid the years of legal back-and-forth that have cost taxpayers millions of dollars: The state could establish an independent redistricting commission in which citizens, not lawmakers, draw the maps.
“We’ll just keep doing these endless cycles of litigation for years to come if we keep this system in place where the people drawing the district lines are the same people who will be running in those districts,” Anthony Gutierrez, executive director of Common Cause Texas, said in a news release. “Our Fair Maps coalition will be presenting a package of common sense reforms designed to let voters be the ones selecting their representatives and not the other way around.”