The U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas is going to reopen the redistricting case left over from 2011. The first phase of the case involves the maps for the Texas House of Representatives; the second involves the U.S. House maps for 2011. The case comes at an inconvenient time for Attorney General Greg Abbott, who will be spending considerable time on the campaign trail.
Readers familiar with the litigation will recall that there was an enormous spike in the state’s Latino population during the decade previous. This should have resulted in more new Hispanic seats, but the map drawers managed to eliminate almost all of the Hispanic gains, most of which were in Dallas County. The Department of Justice has determined that the plan was intentionally discriminatory, and such a finding could result in DOJ imposing a “Section 5” remedy.
What are the stakes here? A lawyer for the Democratic party told me that it was possible to draw another six or so Democratic seats in the Metroplex, plus a new Democratic congressional seat, which would impact the district currently represented by Blake Fahrenthold. But the same lawyer said, “The tide is running against us [in the courts].” Interestingly, the lawyer had high praise for Abbott’s legal shop. “He has hired and maintained high quality lawyers,” the Democratic lawyer told me.