December 10, 2011

The Supreme Court will hear the Texas redistricting case — quickly, in time for the 2012 primary.

Adam Liptak reports:
The court stayed orders from a special three-judge court in San Antonio, which issued electoral maps late last month that seemed to help Democrats and Hispanic voters.

“This thrusts the Supreme Court right into the partisan thicket,” said Richard L. Hasen, an election law expert at the University of California, Irvine. “It is no exaggeration to say that with three or four additional Democratic seats at issue under the original court-drawn plan, the decision could help decide control of the House.”
In typical fashion, the NYT forefronts the Supreme Court's intrusion into politics when it runs counter to Democratic Party interests. But the lower court intruded itself into the matter, redrawing districts originally made by the Texas legislature (which is controlled by Republicans). The Supreme Court is reviewing the work of a court that shifted power toward Democrats. Officially — legally — what they're arguing about is whether the Texas legislature shortchanged Hispanic voters under the standards of the Voting Rights Act.

ADDED: From the Austin American-Statesman:
"We are hopeful that the Attorney General and his team will be able to demonstrate to the Court the necessity of throwing out the panel's maps," [said Steve Munisteri, the chairman of the Republican Party of Texas]. "Further, we hope the Court will either restore the original district lines of the Legislature, or at the very least, make revisions to the district court panel's maps which are more in tune with the legislative intent."

31 comments:

David said...

Unofficially they are arguing about separation of powers and whether a legislature has say in political matters without politicized review by courts.

Crimso said...

The law should get out of politics.

AlphaLiberal said...

Well, no open thread to post this in so I will post this here.

Ann, you obsessed a fair amount over the manufactured Journolist "scandal." You echoed that attack line for weeks or months. I guess you felt journalists had no right to discuss among themselves.

Well, how about if there was a journalist list serve that took that a step further and openly coordinated the content of materials published? And did so to coordinate and encourage character attacks on people who hold a certain view point?

Calling people anti-Semites for holding a different point of view is vicious stuff. From the secret list:

Block’s email to the Freedom Community list arrived under the subject line “Important piece to echo and the research to do it….” – a reference to the Politico story. He wasted no time throwing around more accusations of anti-Semitism.

Nasty stuff, right? You're against it?

Unless it comes from the conservative side, I'll bet. In such case, I expect Ann will not have the outrage she expressed earlier.

The list is gone now. Aren't you curious, Ann? Who was on it? Where did it go?

DaveW said...

It doesn't matter that much how you draw the lines. If the Dems have to come to Texas to get congressional seats they're doomed.

sorepaw said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
X said...

Texas Democrats should not have been such partisan hacks after the 1980 and 1990 census.

Franklin said...

The 2012 presidential election is important not only because it's a philosophical battle between socialism and capitalism but also because whoever is president might get to appoint one or more justices since Scalia, Ginsburg, Kennedy, and Breyer are all getting up there.

I don't believe that I'm exaggerating when I say that I think that the nation can survive one more term of Obama, but I don't think it will survive a SCOTUS with 3 or more justices chosen by Obama as there is absolutely no way that the people he has put on the court would take up this case if they had their druthers.

MadisonMan said...

Math to the rescue. Let A be the population of each district. Construct n polynomials (where n is the number of districts per state) such that the sum of the perimeters of the n polynomials containing population A (plus or minus a small number) is minimized.

I'd love for the SC to say something like this in their judgement.

It is an easy computer programming problem.

sorepaw said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
madAsHell said...

I thought Obama was the post racial candidate.

George said...

I've been telling everyone for the last month to pay attention to this case. I suspect we may (finally) see the USSC strike down preclearance and DOJ interference in elections.

MayBee said...

Math to the rescue.

Let's keep math out of politics.


(remember when the Texas Dems fleebagged rather than work on redistricting?)

Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) said...

Without gerrymandering -- and the original Massachusetts governor's name was pronounced GARY -- the Dems would lose some 20 to 30 seats in the house, nearly all of them "minority."

I say it's bloody high time that happens because the Dems' core message is "you have no chance of election as a minority unless we jigger things to help you."

Tell that to JC Watts (OK) or Tim Scott (SC). There is something horribly perverse and deeply racist in the Dems perennial position that minorities cannot succeed on their own.

Perhaps clueless liberal minorities can't succeed without help from shifting electoral boundaries.

MayBee said...

You look at the politicians the gerrymandered, protected districts produce and you wonder if the minorities really are being well served.

edutcher said...

And if, really when, the Demos lose, they'll scream about how the Republicans "stole" those seats.

sorepaw said...

What is the rationale for keeping the Voting Rights Act in force?

So the Demos can have at least a chance of controlling Congress once in a while.

Without it, they couldn't win enough seats for a quorum.

Bruce Hayden said...

Not sure how much the Dems would lose if majority-minority districts were eliminated. Often, it seems, in the past, they were created in conjunction with Reps, to the disadvantage of overall Democratic party representation.

Part of the reason for this is that in order to maximize the number of districts that a party will likely win, redistricters prefer putting just a bit over half the voters in districts they hope their party carries, and then packing the other party's districts with high percentages of their party. But, in order to guarantee majority control of minority districts, the party percentage has to be a lot higher, and those additional voters come at the party's expense in other districts.

I don't like them though. They provide probably the biggest justification for ending up with non-compact districts. Plus, since the occupants tend to have, by far, the safest seats, they tend to be the most whacked out on the left, and, maybe coincidentally, the most corrupt. And, I frankly don't see how this country benefits by encouraging the sort of racial demagoguery that we see from many of these majority-minority representatives.

vnjagvet said...

But the lower court intruded itself into the matter, redrawing districts originally made by the Texas legislature (which is controlled by Republicans). The Supreme Court is reviewing the work of a court that shifted power toward Democrats.

Bingo. The 7-2 Bush v. Gore case has been routinely criticized by the left as the proof that the SCOTUS was guilty of judicial tampering with an election. The critics ignore, of course, the poorly reasoned Florida Supreme Court's intrusion which seven SCOTUS Justices voted to reverse.

Skyler said...

The funny thing is that there are plenty of Hispanic elected representatives in San Antonio, but they don't seem to want to count the republican ones.

Greg said...

Actually, not in time for the primary. We will have to move the primary for legislative and congressional seats to late May, while still holding our Presidential and US Senate primaries 9along with local races) in early march, meaning this will cause an economic hit to county budgets (and the budgets of the county Republican and Democrat parties) around the state as they have to now pay for two primaries -- and potentially two run-off elections as well.

Crimso said...

"Getting it through 38 state legislatures would not be."

Especially since it was their understanding that there would be no math. That understanding is clearly in force at the Federal level as well. Just look at the mathematical atrocity they call a "budget."

William said...

I looked up Felix Frankfurter the other day. Frankfurter (no relation to Weiner), while sitting on the Supreme Court, used to give FDR legal and political advice. I wondered how this had affected his reputation. I couldn't find any mention of this misconduct in the first three pages of google hits. However Frankfurter's reputation has indeed suffered a decline. It seems that he was a believer in judical restraint. My guess is that the origin of his support for this philosophy stems from those days, early in the New Deal, when the Supremes found so much of FDR's legislation unconstitutional. Frankfurter made a principle out of deferring to the wishes of the elected branches of government in his decisions......I see the fatal flaw in his reasoning. The judiciary should defer to the elected branches when they are controlled by Democrats. In other cases, the judiciary should stand aloof and apart amd reverse the misdirection of elected officials.

mesquito said...

Thery redrew my district because we had the gall to elect a Hispanic (Quico Canseco) who's the wrong flavor (Republican)

bgates said...

What is the rationale for keeping the Voting Rights Act in force?

Jim Crow is gone. The poll tax is gone. Real vote suppression (not the stuff that the operatives yammer about today) is gone.


But some heartless Republicans insist voters provide identification before voting, disenfranchising large segments of the Deceased American, Incarcerated American, and Imaginary American communities.

Eli Blake said...

Fact: Texas is covered by the Voting Right Act.

Fact: There is a long history of discrimination against minorities in Texas, which is WHY it was included in the V.R.A. when it was written in 1964 (at which time Texas was solidly Democratic and the bill was signed by a Texan who knew very well how business was conducted there, Lyndon Johnson.)

Ergo the courts have every legal right, in fact obligation, to make sure redistricting in Texas does not dilute the votes of minorities.

Eli Blake said...

Living in Arizona (which is also covered by the V.R.A.) I know there is plenty of voter suppression of Latino voters that occurs here even today (it was on full display during the Pearce recall with a ham-handed robocall to Latino voters by a pro-Pearce crony, complete with fake accent) and I doubt if Texas is any different.

That's one reason we as voters voted for a redistricting commission that takes drawing legislative and congressional lines OUT of the hands of the legislature.

IMAGINE THAT: Politicians who CAN'T hand-design their own district and decide who can vote for them!

Dante said...

I wonder whether Equal Protection under the Laws might apply here. It seems to me this rule would over represent Democrat interests, and so under-represent Rich White Republican Male's interests.

I don't see how it is fair if Democrats get to inject their own gerrymandering laws into the substance of gerrymandering.

sorepaw said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
sorepaw said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
sorepaw said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Craig said...

electoral maps late last month that seemed to help Democrats and Hispanic voters

Help Hispanic voters? How so? I suppose because Hispanics can only prosper if they are lumped together into electoral ghettos.

It's really worked well for the blacks, hasn't it. I mean, they're doing so much better and all.

Blair said...

This is the first redistricting in 140 years where the Democrats have not controlled the Texas legislature, so tough shit for them as far as I'm concerned. They can have a taste of their own corrupt medicine.