Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Redistricting Analysis

The Statesman has a pretty good editorial, Justices could set things right in Texas, on the redistricting case going to the U. S. Supreme Court, and starts with this bit of history:
A quick history: After the 2000 Census, the Legislature failed to draw up lines reflecting population changes for the state's 32 Congressional districts. A federal panel of judges took over and drafted a map that the U.S. Supreme Court found no reason to change.

Democrats held 17 seats, Republicans 15.

But then-U.S. House Majority Leader Tom Delay, R-Sugar Land, decided he needed more Republicans in his chamber and that the best way to get them was to redraw -— again -— Texas Congressional lines to favor the GOP.

To do that, DeLay campaigned to get more Republicans elected to the Texas Legislature, especially the Texas House. That campaign has brought him and several of his allies considerable grief in the form of criminal charges and civil lawsuits. But he did get the lines redrawn by the Legislature, and Texas now has 21 Republicans in its congressional delegation and 11 Democrats.
What they leave out is how we got to that point in the first place:
I feel some need to say a few things about this Texas thing. We need to go back a few years to remember how this all got started. In 2000, members of the House and Senate went around the state taking testimony on the subject of redistricting. During this process, there were rumblings that the Republicans simply did not care to get anything done during the upcoming session when it came to redistricting. The reason was that at that time, the Democrats still had a majority in the house and to get a plan out, the Republicans would have had to coompromise. If nothing happened during the session, the state plans (House and Senate) would go to the Legislative Redistricting Board (LRB). The LRB consists of the Speaker of the House, Lieutenant Governor, Comptroller, Land Commissioner, and Attorney General. The Republicans held a 4-to-1 majority on the LRB, and there they could pass anything they wanted. Now we come to the Congressional plan. Interestingly, there was little apparent concern at the time over the fate of the Congressional plan. Perhaps the Republicans felt that the courts were in their favor, or perhaps that anything drawn by a court would be better than what might come out of the legislature. The House and the Senate each had their version of a Congressional plan. The House plan made it out of committee, but not to the floor; the Senate plan died in committee. Go figure. It went to a Republican-appointed federal three-judge panel who drew the current plan. It was later affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court. This brings us to the current predicament. Now with a Republican majority in both houses, brought into being by the plans drawn by the uncompromising LRB, they want to revisit the Congressional plabecausese it is "unfair." Now I'm no conspiracy theorist, but could this have been the plan all along, since back in 2000? This is not to say the Democrats are any bettebecausese they redrew Congressional districts in the '90's using this same ploy. I am just trying to put a little perspective on the whole issue.
It's convoluteded tale about how the Republicans intentionally stalled all redistricting in the legislature in 2001 to force the legislative redistricting - state House and Senate - to be done by the LRB where the Republicans held the majority that they didn't have in the legislature. Once they had gerrymandered the legislature, and with the help of DeLay and TRMPAC won the majority in the state House, and holding every statewide office, they were then free to ram through Congressional redistricting.

Will the U. S. Supreme court have the will, if you will, to reverse this decision and as I mentioned yesterday, if the decision was to be reversed, what would the penalty be?


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