Yesterday's Redistricting Decision
The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday affirmed most of the Texas congressional map but ruled that changes made to a border district in 2003 discriminated against minorities, setting in motion a redrawing of political districts that will ripple through Austin and Central Texas.
In its 130-page decision, the Supreme Court ruled that the District 23, which sprawls from San Antonio to West Texas, diluted the rights of minority voters and must be redrawn. In drawing that district, state lawmakers in 2003 split mostly Hispanic Laredo in half and added mostly Anglo Republican voters in the Hill Country to help re-elect U.S. Rep. Henry Bonilla, R-San Antonio.
Redrawing that district will force nearby District 25, the Austin-to-Mexico district held by Democrat Lloyd Doggett of Austin, to be redrawn, according to the court opinion. The court's majority noted that the Doggett district, which joins two distinct Latino communities 300 miles apart, is not compact enough, although the justices did not specifically rule the district unconstitutional.
The court, however, rejected groundbreaking arguments by Democrats that the Texas map was politically gerrymandered, violated the need for equal population in each district or that the Legislature could not change a court-drawn map in the middle of the decade. The decision represents a triumph for Texas Republicans, led by former U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay, who engineered the new map in 2003 — and, in the case of District 23, an affirmation of minority voting rights.
I honestly don't know who this will end up helping, but most seem to think that the easiest way to fix the problem with Bonilla's district would be to put the rest of Webb County back in, which would likely cause Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar to switch districts and run against Bonilla. That would probably allow former Democratic Rep. Ciro Rodriguez, who narrowly lost the last two primaries to Cuellar, a chance to return to the House. In fact, I heard Rodriguez on NPR say he would run again if the district looked like his former district. On the face of it, that seems good for Democrats because it would give them an opportunity to take back Bonilla's seat, and put the more progressive and more loyal Rodriguez back in Congress.
Here's the blogswarm I missed: Burnt Orange Report (and here and here), Off the Kuff, Pink Dome, In the Pink Texas (who hears there's going to be another special session), Capitol Annex (and here and here), McBlogger (and here), Brains and Eggs, Common Sense, Just Another Blog, SCOTUSBlog, Swing State Project, MyDD, Daily Kos.