Greg Abbott's Redistricting Unicorn

Tomorrow, April 18, at 2pm, the Senate State Affairs Committee will hear SB 1524 by Senator Seliger.  The bill seeks to make the interim redistricting maps drawn by the San Antonio federal court for use in last year's elections permanent for the State House, State Senate, and U.S. Congress. This is an idea being pushed by Attorney General Greg Abbott under the auspices that it will somehow make all the state’s redistricting issues magically go away. No more costly court battles! No more changed election schedules! No more re-drawing of district boundaries! The problem with Abbott’s redistricting unicorn is that it doesn’t exist.

See, the San Antonio court drew the interim maps as a temporary measure (that’s why they call them “interim”) while waiting on a ruling from a three-judge federal panel in D.C. as to the compliance of the legislatively drawn maps with the Voting Rights Act.  The D.C. panel later determined that the maps adopted by the Legislature were retrogressive (meaning they made minority voters worse off) and intentionally discriminatory against minority voters. You read that last part right. Not just accidentally discriminatory, discriminatory on purpose. In fact, the opinion states that the parties involved “have provided more evidence of discriminatory intent than we have space, or need, to address here.”


Intentional discrimination was something the San Antonio court never heard evidence on or addressed because the D.C. court’s findings came after the San Antonio district court had already ordered the interim plans into effect for the 2012 elections.  Additionally, the maps the San Antonio court drew still don’t reflect appropriate representation for minority voters, who made up 89% of Texas’ population growth in the last decade and are the reason Texas got 4 new Congressional districts in the first place.


So basically, the interim maps contain some of the same problems as the original maps the Legislature drew. For Abbott to think that the legislature can just adopt less-flawed maps to replace really-flawed maps and no one will challenge that is simply delusional and the members of the legislature shouldn’t buy into it.


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