Thursday, June 29, 2006

supreme court rules on redistricting

On Wednesday in a 5-3 decision (Chief Justice John Roberts abstained from voting), the United States Supreme Court decided to uphold most of the Texas congressional district map. Politicos had been whispering for days that the high court was poised to issue a ruling on the case. It's hard to decide the victor, though.

In 2003, the Texas Legislature voted to enact Tom DeLay's mid-decade gerrymandering, despite numerous attempts from Texas Democrats to block the perceived illegal action. Democratic legislators fled to Oklahoma and New Mexico while trying to block its passage, but inevitably the Republicans prevailed and gained six coveted congressional seats in 2004.

With the "new swing voter" Anthony Kennedy casting the deciding vote, the Supreme Court only took issue with one congressional district.
The justices ordered lower courts and the state to fashion a new District 23. The district takes up a huge part of west Texas, from El Paso to San Antonio, and the seat is held by Rep. Henry Bonilla, a seven-term Republican.

It is unclear whether a new map for District 23 can be redrawn in time for the November midterm elections.

Boyd Richie, Chairman of the Texas Democratic Party, considered Wednesday's ruling a victory for Texas Democrats. Because of the Supreme Court's decision, disenfranchised Hispanic voters in South Texas will now be assured that their votes really count. Mr. Richie also expressed disappointment that the entire map of Texas wasn't thrown out or revised.
Tom DeLay exploited a weak-kneed governor and compliant President to abuse voters in every corner of Texas. Republicans in the Texas legislature wasted millions of taxpayer dollars and ignored addressing important issues such as school finance and insurance prices to do Tom DeLay's dirty work.

The challenges that remain for us are to rebuild our Party and elect good Democrats to every office from the Governor right on down to our local commissioners, clerks, and judges. I urge everyone to vote a straight Democratic ticket and let's put government back where it belongs-- in the hands of the people of Texas.
Attorney Rolando Rios agreed with Mr. Richie's assessment in a CNN interview. "The federal courts have to come in and protect the rights of Latinos against the abuses of the state of Texas. [Republicans] do everything they can to keep us from having our due."

It will be interesting to see the implications of this ruling. Expect more from NTL as they unfold in the weeks to come.


Ted McLaughlin said...

Hate to be picky, but it was a 5-3 ruling. The new Chief Justice did not vote because he had helped decide the case in a lower court ruling.

By the way, I like your blog and read it regularly.

Bradley said...

Thanks for pointing that out. I must have misread the CNN article. When it mentions a 5-4 decision, it seems to be referencing a Pennsylvania case.