This solves one problem but creates a slew of others, starting with the most obvious: which maps will be used? The Legislature’s maps haven’t been pre-cleared by the D.C. court. The San Antonio district court’s maps were incinerated by the Supremes, who ordered the San Antonio judges to draw new ones, without offering any apparent guidance, except to respect the Legislature’s right to make policy choices. And then there are the questions of filing deadlines and dates for primary elections and runoffs, which will almost certainly have to be moved yet again.
Here is the gist of the Supreme Court’s ruling, as reported in the Washington Post:
“To the extent the [federal] District Court exceeded its mission to draw interim maps that do not violate the Constitution or the Voting Rights Act, and substituted its own concept of ‘the collective public good’ for the Texas Legislature’s determination of which policies serve ‘the interests of the citizens of Texas,’ the [district] court erred,” said the Supreme Court ruling Friday.
Where do we go from here? This much is clear: About all there is left for the San Antonio district court to do is tweak the legislative and congressional maps. There will be no major changes. Congressional District 23 will probably get some more attention, according to an attorney who is familiar with the case.
The question that I have always had about the House redistricting map is why it failed to take into account the huge Latino population gains. The answer is that much of that growth did not occur among the voting age population. The Hispanic population is young, due to high birth rates, and also includes many non-citizens in urban areas, who are ineligible to register to vote. They live here, but they cannot be counted in a way that swells the ranks of Latino voters.
As I wrote in an earlier post on this subject, the 2011 redistricting will be the last to be controlled by Republicans (unless the GOP is smart enough to do Hispanic outreach, instead of trying to suppress Latino voting). During the next census cycle, the young Hispanic population will be ten years older and will enter the voting age population. 2021 is when Texas politics will truly change as Latino growth shifts the balance of power away from not only Anglos but also African Americans. The clock is ticking.