Monday, February 6, 2012

Texas redistricting appears far from settled, no matter what AG Abbott says

Posted By on Mon, Feb 6, 2012 at 4:27 PM

Minutes after the headlines started to puncture the innerwebs announcing Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott Approves Interim Election Maps and AG agrees to map with Latino districts, the Texas Democratic Party chimed in with this communication:

Just moments ago, Attorney General Abbott issued a statement outlining an agreement reached with some parties regarding the ongoing redistricting legal fight. We were not involved in the discussions that produced this agreement, we are not in agreement to the maps released by the Attorney General, and we do not expect that these maps will be used for the 2012 election.

We're greatly disappointed the Attorney General did not deal in good faith with all parties involved.

For the Texas Democratic Party, any maps that do not have the consent of the Mexican American Legislative Caucus, the Legislative Black Caucus, and other plaintiffs are nonstarters.

The Attorney General is clearly terrified that the DC court will find that the state’s maps are discriminatory in both effect and intent. Until there’s a legitimate agreement among the parties, we support the court continuing to do its work.

 

The abbreviated version of redistricting goes something like this: After Texas Republicans pushed out a map through the Texas Legislature that failed to give Hispanic districts their due, federal judges in San Antonio swung in offering 13 "minority-opportunity districts" to the Lege's 10. That revision failed to pass muster with the U.S. Supreme Court, who said redistricting is a job for elected leaders, that the lower court had not abided the Lege's version closely enough.

In the rush to salvage an April primary, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott said today a new version had been worked out through an agreement "between the State of Texas and the Texas Latino Redistricting Task Force – which includes Texas LULAC, MALDEF, GI Forum, Southwest Voter Registration Education Project, Domingo Garcia, The Mexican American Bar Association of Texas, and La Fe Policy Research and Education Center."

The AG's version reportedly kicks Austin's Lloyd Doggett back into the Lege's re-drawn elongated Austin-to-San Antonio District 35.

An AG press release today states:

The proposed maps minimize changes to the redistricting plan passed by the Legislature and, as the U. S. Supreme Court required, makes changes only where necessary. The Texas Attorney General’s Office has worked with a wide range of interest groups to incorporate reasonable requests from all parties to the extent possible without compromising the will of the Texas Legislature. Even though these proposed interim maps aren’t fully supported by all interest groups, modifications have been incorporated based on requests made by all parties. Today’s maps should allow the court to finalize the interim redistricting maps in time to have elections in April.

 

That didn't wash with the Mexican-American Legislative Caucus (or the Democratic Party of Texas, above). In a prepared statement for MALC, state Rep Trey Martinez Fischer said:

MALC worked in good faith with General Abbott in hopes of arriving at a compromise that reflected the changing diversity of our state in a manner acceptable to all parties. Unfortunately negotiations stalled when it became apparent some parties in these discussions had a narrow and at times unrealistic view of the evidence presented at trial. The maps proposed by the Attorney General today are a beginning point, not an end

MALC has maintained from day one that minority rights should not be subordinated in order to facilitate political expediency. We have presented a fair plan that recognizes the growth of the Latino and African American community while at the same time eliminating discriminatory tactics used by the State to disenfranchise the minority community.

As we have said before, MALC and the redistricting plaintiffs have presented a compelling case at trial in both San Antonio and in Washington, D.C. We will not compromise our principles for the sake of expediency and will not be forced into a resolution that fails to recognize the fundamental fact that Texas’ growth is minority growth. We are confident that the evidence presented at trial demonstrates that Texas’ maps violate both Section 5 and Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.

The Attorney General presents an illusion of an inclusive map; the reality is that it falls short of recognizing minority growth in Texas. For instance in CD 23, the compromise district clearly performs worse than it had in the benchmark map. No one needs to be reminded that the candidate of choice of the minority community failed to win election in the benchmark map in 2010. MALC could not accept a CD 23 that is worse off than it was in the benchmark map, considering that reality. While all the parties support a primary as soon as possible, we want to ensure that Texans have fair and legal redistricting maps. MALC is encouraged that with the issuance of these maps the Attorney General has made it clear that he accepts the growing reality that the maps adopted by the state legislature for the state house, state senate, and United States Congress were constitutionally-flawed and require immediate remedial action.

 

San Antonio's trio of federal judges must still sign off on the new map.

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