13 December 2005

Texas Redistricting

The between census re-redistricting of the Congressional seats in Texas lead to one of the biggest GOP gains in recent times. Colorado rejected a similar attempt by Colorado Republicans in a decision which was a mix of state and federal law, which the federal courts have so far refused to review. Now, after years of litigation in which the U.S. Supreme Court has expressly declined to consider some of the issues it is now taking up, like whether a state can redistrict more than once a decade, the U.S. Supreme Court is considering the Texas redistricting case, with oral arguments taking place possibly as soon as March.

Conventional wisdom had been that the Texas case was dead by now. But, the Supreme Court doesn't take many cases, and would have little incentive to take a case like this one simply to reaffirm that it is dead, which was the status quo. My take is that, at least, four judges on the U.S. Supreme Court want to declare the Texas redistricting scheme unconstitutional (something particularly notable in light of the newly revealed fact that the Justice Department staff urged that it be disallowed as a violation of the Voting Rights Act and were overturned by politically appointed supervisors). If this happens, it will leave Democrats with an unprecedented opportunity to regain House seats in 2006.

It could amount to nothing, of course, but this case is worth keeping your eyes on. Part of me wonders if the Court isn't eager to show bipartisanship and to attone for Bush v. Gore in 2000, by setting aside this gross partisan gerrymander.

No comments: