Redistricting: Battle Over Fair Maps at the Capitol, and in Court

May 30, 2013

The Texas Senate is holding a public hearing this morning on redistricting.

It’s a chance for people to tell lawmakers what they think about district maps drawn for state House, Senate and Congressional elections.

The legislature is in a special session to adopt permanent maps. Republicans are pushing to adopt the maps used in 2012 elections. They were drawn by a federal court in San Antonio. The court drew those maps after rejecting versions drawn by the legislature. But Democrats say some of the court-drawn maps still aren’t fair enough.

The House will hold public hearings on redistricting Friday and Saturday.

Meanwhile, that San Antonio court is trying to determine how the legislature’s actions could affect an ongoing lawsuit over the voting maps.

Ross Ramsey is executive editor and co-founder of our reporting partner The Texas Tribune. He was at yesterday's court hearing. He gave us this summary:

"The three judges in San Antonio are like the rest of us. They just want to know what’s going on. There’s a bunch of moving parts right now. The legislature is in town talking about ratifying the maps the court drew to get everybody through the 2012 elections. The court that drew those maps is trying to figure out what to do if the legislature passes those. And they’ve got one eye on the United States Supreme Court, where there is a redistricting case out of Alabama that could knock down a part of the federal Voting Rights Act that affects Texas. And they’ve got another eye on a sister federal court in Washington DC, that had the job of pre-clearing the Texas maps and decided the Texas maps had intentional discrimination against them. The court in San Antonio is trying to figure out how to bring all those strings together to maps in place in time for the 2014 elections.”

Ramsey says lawyers from all sides agreed that the Texas Senate maps are acceptable, but differences remain on the maps used to elect the state’s congressional delegation and members of the Texas House.