On January 20th, the United States Supreme Court ordered a federal court in Texas to reconsider the maps it had drawn for the state’s legislative districts. The Court unanimously held that the lower court may not have used “appropriate standards” in drawing the new maps. Instead, the lower court had “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 remanded the case to the district court to draw new maps, this time starting from the plan created by the state legislature last year. Please see this earlier coverage by the Rose Report for a more in-depth analysis on the background of the case.
Redistricting Across The United States
The Rose Institute of State and Local Government at Claremont McKenna College presents one source to find information on redistricting in all fifty states. Scroll over a state to learn about its redistricting process, and click on a state to go to its individual page with more in-depth information and news coverage of redistricting in the state.
U.S. judges in Texas may not rule on claims that Governor Rick Perry and Republican lawmakers distorted election maps to keep Latinos out of office until a panel of Washington judges decides if the districting complies with federal voter protections, lawyers in the case said. Closing arguments are under way today in San Antonio federal court, where Latino activists and state attorneys have faced off in a two-week trial over Texas’s new congressional districts.
State Sen. Wendy Davis and state Rep. Marc Veasey, both Fort Worth Democrats, won a legal round Tuesday in their opposition to the Legislature's Texas Senate redistricting plans. The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia granted the motion to intervene in the federal pre-clearance review of the plans. Davis and Veasey joined three other local residents last month in filing the motion, in which they describe the political boundaries drawn this year by a Republican-led Legislature as an affront to minorities.
The landmark 1965 Voting Rights Act has been the law of the land for nearly half a century, removing barriers for generations of black voters in the South. But one of its key provisions still sparks controversy. The law requires the Justice Department to preapprove changes made to election procedures in states with a history of racial discrimination. Many conservatives say that any need for the law has long since passed, and this month, they got a boost. A federal appeals court in Washington, D.C., allowed a constitutional challenge to the preapproval language to move forward.
The Republican-controlled Texas House gave preliminary approval on
Tuesday to a GOP plan to redraw congressional districts despite
concerns from Democrats that it dilutes the votes of minorities. Democrats
attacked the plan by Republican Rep. Burt Solomons, arguing it doesn't
accurately reflect minority growth over the past 10 years and defies
the federal Voting Rights Act. The map needs a final procedural vote
before it goes back to the Senate for final approval.