Nothing prevents the Legislature from drawing new maps. Redistricting is no different from any other bill, and it doesn’t have to be limited to the session after a census. That said, I don’t see the point of going through the exercise. So what if Republicans endorse a referendum to re-redistrict in 2013, as the state party chair promised last December? The intent of those pushing for “re-redistricting” is clearly to restore Republican dominance, which is threatened by the current maneuvering in San Antonio and in the District Court in Washington. To attempt to do so, however, raises all of the issues that are currently in play. The Legislature’s bill will still have to go through preclearance (unless the Supreme Court strikes down Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act in the meantime); it will still be vulnerable to a court’s determination that the Legislature’s map is tainted by discriminatory intent.
The state’s legal team may find itself in the same position a year from now that it is in today: trying to defend maps that ignore Hispanic population growth. The issue comes down to this: Do Republicans (a) want to redistrict so they can correct the flaws in the current plans? Or do they (b) want to redistrict so that they can suppress minority voting strength? We all know the answer. Unless there is a sea change in the attitude of Republicans, a re-redistricting session is likely to end up costing the state a considerable amount of money–just to lose again. Until Republicans come to terms with the reality of demographics, another exercise in ignoring them will only produce the same result.
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