Supreme Court Tosses District Judges' Redistricting Maps, Says Texas Needs a Do-Over

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Back in November U.S. District Judges Orlando Garcia and Xavier Rodriguez down in San Antonio drew up new congressional and state House and Senate maps, since they so hated the ones submitted by the Texas Legislature. The judges claimed the state willfully ignored the state's growing Hispanic population, and their new map created Congressional District 33, which MALDEF quite liked, saying the DFW newcomer "contains a plurality of Latino population and is likely to grow into a Latino opportunity district over the next decade." To which Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott said: Um, no. The U.S. Supreme Court agrees, kind of.

Moments ago the Supremes handed down this 13-page ruling that sends the mapmakers back to the lower courts, saying the district judges had no good reason for doing that they done. And they point to District 33 as their chief example:
The court's order suggests that it may have intentionally drawn District 33 as a "minority coalition opportunity district" in which the court expected two different minoritygroups to band together to form an electoral majority. The order is somewhat ambiguous on this point -- some portions suggest that the court deliberately designed such a district, other parts suggest that it drew the district solely as a response to population growth in the area. Compare id., at 146-147 ("Because much of the growth that occurred in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex was attributable to minorities, the new district 33 was drawn as a minority coalition opportunity district"), with id., at 144 ("The Court has nowhere expressly sought toincrease the performance of any opportunity district above benchmark"). If the District Court did set out to create a minority coalition district, rather than drawing a district that simply reflected population growth, it had no basis for doing so.
The ruling doesn't demand the state use the originally submitted maps. But Clarence Thomas would have: In a separate opinion attached to this morning's doc, he writes that "although Texas' new plans are being chalenged on the grounds that they violate the Federal Constitution and §2 of the Voting Rights Act, they have not yet been found to violate any law."

Update at 10:47 a.m.: Abbott's office just dispatched a statement from the Texas AG, which is below.
U.S. Supreme Court Says Federal District Court Erred in their Drawing of Interim Redistricting Plans for Texas

Statement from Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott

The Supreme Court confirmed that the San Antonio court drew illegal maps, without regard for the policy decisions of elected leaders. As the Justices point out, courts are ill-suited to make policy judgments and redistricting is primarily the responsibility of the State. The Court made clear in a strongly worded opinion that the district court must give deference to elected leaders of this state, and it's clear by the Supreme Court ruling that the district court abandoned these guiding principles.

The Supreme Court's swift decision will allow Texas to move forward with elections as soon as possible, under maps that are lawful.

The following are excepts from the U.S. Supreme Court Per Curiam opinion in the State's redistricting case:

Because the District Court here had the benefit of a recently enacted plan to assist it, the court had neither the need nor the license to cast aside that vital aid.

To the extent the District Court exceeded its mission to draw interim maps that do not violate the Constitution or the Voting Rights Act, and substituted its own concept of "the collective public good" for the Texas Legislature's determination of which policies serve "the interests of the citizens of Texas," the court erred.

..the state plan serves as a starting point for the district court. It provides important guidance that helps ensure that the district court appropriately confines itself to drawing interim maps that comply with the Constitution and the Voting Rights Act, without displacing legitimate state policy judgments with the court's own preferences.

To avoid being compelled to make such otherwise standardless decisions, a district court should take guidance from the State's recently enacted plan in drafting an interim plan. That plan reflects the State's policy judgments on where to place new districts and how to shift existing ones in response to massive population growth.


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12 comments
sandra crenshaw
sandra crenshaw

Here I can be a little sarcastic.  

Europeans left England and fought for Democracy on this soil and the right to vote was given to all immigrants who declared citizenship and allegiance to the United States.Africans were brought to this country involuntary. Their descendants born on this soil fought to be just recognized as citizens and then fought for the right to vote.Yesterday ,Garcia and MALDEF won a battle to prohibit Census workers from asking Mexican immigrants residing on this soil, if they were citizens so that they would not be afraid to complete the forms.  Today, they expect the US citizens to protect the "voting rights" of Mexicans who are not citizens, not of age, who may or may not want to declare allegiance to the US by exerting their political power in the COURTS. Unlike those of us who fought for our citizenship, all that  any immigrant who wants to vote has to do is apply for Citizenship. This is the law of this land, until it changes, I don't think using the redistricting process is the route to go.  Makes good political fodder and business advertising for the abogados at taxpayers expense.  I wonder if Garcia has a clue, since he did not go to war, the contempt and ire he raises against  his own people when he wants to use Mexican immigrant population to further  his political career when there are immigrants who move around the US for jobs, send their money back to Mexico, overcrowd our schools instead of helping the Mexicans fight for Democracy in their own country.  

I spoke with one of Dallas least radical Mexican American leaders who told me that the children in Irving schools will be citizens and of voting age in ten years so their population should be considered in redistricting today.  I questioned him if he knew  how many of those Mexican American natural born citizens will be residing at the same address.or the same city or even in Texas. How do we know if they want to remain in America? He had no clue that is why we redistrict every 10 years on the population in each political jurisdiction according to those who are eligible to vote. We do apportion political jurisdictions based on all persons residing on our soil and that is where they are counted but not on voting issues.  A black man demanded that everybody be counted and watch the black-brown battles, they want to take our seats.

Talk about giving 'em an inch and they try to take a mile????. I bet in 2021, Mexican immigrants will not sign up and risk increased deportation and voter id laws. Revolution cannot be arrogant.

Augie
Augie

Abbott as usual playing politics with his official position.  There are multiple other legal challenges pending, which have been considered to be more likely to succeed that this challenge.  The maps the Leg drew up are vastly more egregious than the ones the Sp Ct. didn't like in this ruling.  Instead of recognizing that no good solution has yet been found, our Attorney General, ever preparing for his next campaign, issues a politically charged statement that essentially says, we have a small window of opportunity to Jam our wholly unfair redistricting lines down the throats of all Texans, but especially minorities.  He is the old white guard doing his best to protect the white man's grip on statewide politics, which would be fine, if achieved under a fair system.  The ones the Tex Leg drew are clearly unfair to minorities, including an unbelievably unfair one in Tarrant County.  Why can't our Attorney General act on behalf of all Texans and quit politicking and pandering to the white base?  Shameful! Please remember what Abbott is all about when he is next up for election.  

Paul
Paul

Just get me out of EBJ's district,  right now I am willing to vote for a dead possum ...

T. Erickson
T. Erickson

So does this mean they go with the maps from the Lege or modify the court ones? Have yet to see an answer to that in any of the coverage.

Phelps
Phelps

I don't know enough about the facts to weigh in on the merits, but the SCOTUS reasoning is sound.  If Rodriguez did what they say he did, then he moved from enforcing the rules to legislating from the bench.  

The funny thing is that as I understand the Voting Act, racial gerrymandering has be done exactly right, but political gerrymandering is A-OK.  I wish we could work out a deal where we toss out Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act at the same time that we outlaw gerrymandering in general, require districts to have teh shortest feasible perimeter for the population size, and just get to voting.

Unfortunately, the only place for that to come from would be The People, because politicians would NEVER give up this little knife-fight they get to have every 10 years, and The People don't pay enough attention to this arcana to get worked up about it.

Omar Jimenez
Omar Jimenez

In my dream World, let someone who is non-bias and start all over agian. With the two maps, they put me in different places. The Original one puts me with Mesquite and Garland all the way to Sachse, while the other one put me in the same 110 with South Oak Cliff, PG and Balch Springs for State Rep. We'll just see.

Los_Politico
Los_Politico

Key word being "yet". This is actually a good ruling for Dallas County Democrats.

Jd
Jd

Wont be long until Dallas will be renamed The Big Domingo.  

Breed often my friends.

sandra crenshaw
sandra crenshaw

I asked if the Republicans were going to exemplery of sportsmanship and play fair. But after participating in the process, I realized that if the Republicans have the majority of the lawmakers, a majority of voters gave them the power to speak on their behalf and likewise if Democrats were the majority. It's our representative form of government. Can't get on the football field and in the middle of the game start trying to change the rules.  I just think the Republicans got carried away this time and did their own people a diservice with districts like 107 and 101 in the State House Dallas County seats for only marginal Republican Districts. In the end, it will be whichever party gets their vote out and that's democracy--- the majority rules.  The courts are to be referees not the NFL.

Oak Cliff girl
Oak Cliff girl

The panel of federal judges in San Antonio has to re-draw the maps, this time starting from the legislative maps, but departing from them any time they think that map is likely to violate the Voting Rights Act.

Politico
Politico

Of course, that is not a racial or discriminatory comment there Jd? 

No way, the honorable white man that you are, would never do that!!!! 

sandra crenshaw
sandra crenshaw

Do you think it is racist to feel that all immigrants have to play by the rules. If we draw districts with a large percentage of immigrants say Nigerians who cannot vote, it would be unfair for the elected official from that district to represent the city with only 600 citizens and 1,400 immigrants and stress the other representatives that have to serve 2,000 citizens. It is a violation of one man vote vote which should read one citizen one vote. 

Besides, many immigrants do not want American citizen, they intend to return, so without knowing that we should not factor them in the redistricting process. Apportionment yes. but not redistricting which is an electoral process. I can't vote in the Mexican American Democrats or the Oak Cliff Lions or even the NAACP if I am not a member. 

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