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Perry v Perez

» SCOTUS: Perry v Perez
» Michael Li: SCOTUS rules; sends case back to San Antonio court for further proceedings
» SCOTUSBlog: Court rejects Texas maps, delays W.Va. map

The San Antonio map goes into the trash bin. But the Supreme Court turns it back to them to redraw. From my decidedly non-lawyer perspective, the biggest things I see are that the San Antonio judges now have to take into account more of the legislative intent on the map that they draw. As much as I'll delve into the law, it appears as if SCOTUS opted to treat their Upham ruling more in line with the way the state wanted it to be viewed than the plaintiffs. That issue turns on the treatment of considering non-precleared maps in the process of drawing interim plans. That results from the Dept. of Justice telling anyone and everyone in pre-clearance limbo that interim maps could not consider non-precleared maps as they drew interim maps. It was a nearly impossible standard as communities of interest typically have some similar shapes and contours that define a fair amount of any plan. All things considered, I'm not convinced that's a whole lot of bad. At least not yet.

The timing of knowing what the interim districts is, of course, totally screwy right now. My hunch is that we could see something late next week. But if, as Michael Li points out, the DC preclearance trial wraps up on Feb. 3, I can see the San Antonio judges being a bit more cautious this time around and waiting until the DC folks are done. I think they have enough direction (or at least, CYA) from the Supreme Court to deal with the Section 5 side of things. But since the different trials was an issue before, I wouldn't be surprised if San Antonio takes at least two more weeks to sort things out.

As far as districts, I'm not overly concerned on that for races where our shop is working or contests where I'm rooting for candidates. The San Antonio districts (20, 23, and 34) might get unsettled, but I think the only real question is whether they try to re-attach a Doggett/East Austin wing to CD34. CD33 in Tarrant, I'm wondering if that one goes away. That district alone would be a good excuse for the San Antonio court to wait on DC for. We're working with Team Lampson here at the day job and I'm not sure that I expect to see any change that impacts us - the state's plan and the court's plan had negligible difference between the two.

House races may just be a bit more dicey. Even though it sounds like southwest Houston has better-than-decent odds of having a HD137 and HD149 as it does today, the fact that it's smaller real estate can mean that folks can find themselves out of a district even if the nature of a district they were filed for is still good for them to run in. I'd hate to think that a few move-in candidates in HD137 will have to break a lease next month. It's a competitive district as drawn by the court and it was a point of contention for the court to address. So even minor tweaks can change the performance in that district greatly. HD144, I'm a little more comfortable thinking that one remains a Hispanic opportunity district. Whether we see 24 or 25 seats in Harris County could be an issue since the lege's intent was for it to be 24. That could be bad news for HD144's Legler and the four-pack of GOP candidates running in what they hope to be an open HD136. Fort Bend's HD26 is more of a concern to watch for if it moves closer to the Charlie Howard water faucet than a district that maintains the core of Fort Bend's Asian community of interest.

Stay tuned. And stay on Michael Li's blog if you're following redistricting even halfway as closely as I am.

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  1. Little discussed is the outlook for the April primary. Can it still be pulled off? Hard to see how you can sign up as a candidate when you don’t know what district you’ll be living in; hard to see how you can print ballots without knowing same.

    Assuming the primary gets pushed back, as I do (not a big scandal; my first primary vote was cast in May), the question then becomes whether the caucuses could still be held in April, thus allowing a portion of the presidential selection process in Texas to proceed (possibly) before the Republican nomination is sewn up.

  2. Unless I misunderstood the Supreme court’s pronouncement that coalition minority districts are not protected by the Voting Rights Act, my take is that Vo’s district is not kept, and that Legler’s returns to its original form. In fact, unless I am missing some Section 2 evidence in the San Antonio proceeding, I think the entire Legislative plan for Harris County state house districts will be adopted by the San Antonio court. My review does not see a valid Section 5 claim against the Legislature’s state house districts in Harris County, either, but let’s all stay tuned.

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