Everyone in the Texas redistricting fight is pissed off. In their latest brief to the U.S. Supreme Court, the voting and minority rights groups challenging Texas’ political maps painted Republican state lawmakers as “opportunistically inconsistent in their treatment of appearance versus reality.” Pointing to the lawmakers’ 2013 adoption of a court-drawn map that was meant to be temporary, the groups chronicled the actions as “a ruse,” a “shellgame strategy” and a devious “smokescreen” meant to obscure discriminatory motives behind a previous redistricting plan. Channeling their anger toward the lower court that found lawmakers intentionally discriminated against voters of color, state attorneys used a February brief to denounce the court’s ruling as one that “defies law and logic,” suffers multiple “legal defects” and “flunks the commonsense test to boot.”
The fighting words will come to a head this month when the U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments over the validity of specific districts in Texas’ congressional and House maps. A lower court ruled that in those districts, lawmakers violated federal protections for voters of color. But seven years into legal wrangling over Texas lawmakers’ efforts to redraw the state’s maps, the punchy legal briefs have already served to crystallize the frustration surrounding the prolonged — and convoluted — litigation.
“There are few things a legislature can do to avoid protracted litigation over its redistricting legislation,” state attorneys wrote in the opening lines of their brief. “But if the nearly inevitable litigation comes to pass, one would have thought there was one reasonably safe course available to bring it to an end — namely, enacting the three-judge court’s remedial redistricting plan as the legislature’s own. Think again.”