Wednesday, February 29, 2012
The Western District of Texas issued new legislative district maps late yesterday after the Supreme Court sent the case back to the Texas court last month. (Thanks to txredistricting.org for the maps.)
Recall that the Supreme Court in Perry v. Perez vacated the Texas district court's maps that were drawn while Texas's preclearance case under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act was pending in the D.C. court. The per curiam Supreme Court said that the Texas court should defer to the Texas legislature's maps unless they stand a "reasonable probability" of failing Section 5 preclearance.
In response, the Texas court reissued maps late yesterday. Here's what the Texas AG had to say about it:
The new interim maps issued late today are a substantial improvement from maps previously issued by the San Antonio court. As a result of the U.S. Supreme Court's unanimous, clear direction to the district court, these new interim maps more accurately reflect the decisions of elected Texas legislators.
In light of the State's legal arguments, the San Antonio court only modified the Legislatively enacted plan in response to alleged Voting Rights Act violations--while leaving virtually all other districts as they were drawn by the Legislature. In doing so, the court properly rejected the demands by some plaintiffs to draw drastic and overreaching interim maps.
We apparently don't have a written opinion from the Texas court yet, and we can't see exactly how it applied the "reasonable probability" standard--and therefore whether Texas succeeded in forging a new path around Section 5 preclearance.