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SCOTUS: Re-Districting Must Be Race Based

From the DNC’s Associated Press:

Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, left, and Gov. Rick Perry enter a news conference in this Oct. 9, 2003 file photo, in Austin, Texas, where they displayed a new congressional redistricting map, shown on the right. On Wednesday, June 28, 2006, the U.S. Supreme Court threw out part of a Texas congressional map engineered by former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay. The court ruled that some of the new boundaries failed to protect minority voting rights.

Justices Back Most G.O.P. Changes to Texas Districts


June 28, 2006

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld most of the Texas congressional map engineered by former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay but threw out part, saying some of the new boundaries failed to protect minority voting rights.

The fractured decision was a small victory for Democratic and minority groups who accused Republicans of an unconstitutional power grab in drawing boundaries that booted four Democratic incumbents out of office.

Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, writing for the majority, said Hispanics do not have a chance to elect a candidate of their choosing under the plan.

Republicans picked up six Texas congressional seats two years ago, and the court’s ruling does not seriously threaten those gains. Lawmakers, however, will have to adjust boundary lines to address the court’s concerns.

At issue was the shifting of 100,000 Hispanics out of a district represented by a Republican incumbent and into a new, oddly shaped district. Foes of the plan had argued that that was an unconstitutional racial gerrymander under the Voting Rights Act, which protects minority voting rights.

On a different issue, the court ruled that state legislators may draw new maps as often as they like — not just once a decade as Texas Democrats claimed. That means Democratic and Republican state lawmakers can push through new maps anytime there is a power shift at a state capital.

The Constitution says states must adjust their congressional district lines every 10 years to account for population shifts. In Texas the boundaries were redrawn twice after the 2000 census, first by a court, then by state lawmakers in a second round promoted by DeLay after Republicans took control.

That was acceptable, the justices said.

"We reject the statewide challenge to Texas redistricting as an unconstitutional political gerrymander," Kennedy wrote.

However, he said the state’s redrawing of District 23 violated the Voting Rights Act.

The 2003 boundaries were approved by the state Legislature and its Republican majority newly elected with DeLay’s help. In the next congressional elections, Republicans picked up six additional seats in the House. The contentious map drawing also contributed to the downfall of DeLay.

He was charged in state court with money laundering in connection with fundraising for legislative candidates. Although he is fighting the charges and maintains he is innocent, DeLay gave up his leadership post and then resigned from Congress.

After Texas decided to redraw its congressional district boundaries, two other states — Colorado and Georgia — also undertook a second round of redistricting.

"Some people are predicting a rash of mid-decade redistricting. I am skeptical," said Richard Hasen, an election law expert at Loyola Law School. "It would be seen as a power grab in a lot of places."

Huh. I thought the US Constitution specifically gave Congress the right to set Congressional districts. I guess I was mistaken about that.

It turns out race trumps the Constitution every time.

Funny how gerrymandering for Democrats is alwaysallowed.

This article was posted by Steve on Wednesday, June 28th, 2006. Comments are currently closed.

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