Nel's New Day

January 9, 2012

Texas Goes to the Supreme Court

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 7:55 PM
Tags: , , ,

Texas is going to the Supreme Court next week. (Yes, that the same state with a governor who has finally learned the names of all three agencies he wants to erase if he becomes President of the United States.) The issue is redistricting following the 2010 U.S. census.

The Republicans in Texas want to redraw Congressional districts to eliminate minorities and Democrats; the rest of the state thinks that Hispanics and blacks should have voting rights, per the almost 40-year-old federal voting rights law that protects racial and ethnic minorities from voting discrimination. Because of their history of this discrimination, all or parts of 16 states, primarily in the South, must get approval from the Justice Department or a Washington court’s approval before changing the way they conduct their elections.

After the increase in the state’s population grew by more than 20 percent, 4.2 million people, with over half the increase being Hispanics, the state received 4 more Congressional seats, making the total 36. Only one new district developed by the Republican legislature was heavily Hispanic.

Because of the vitriolic debate, the case went to a federal court that came up with its own plan Voting rights expert Sidney Rosdeitcher at the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law, said that the result “will affect the voting rights of millions of Latino and other minority voters.”

Discussion in the Supreme Court this afternoon failed to reach consensus: the “liberal” judges appeared more sympathetic to minority groups; conservatives moved toward the state ofTexasargument. No surprise there!

To confuse the matter, interim maps drawn by the Texas court would not be changed until another court in Washington, D.C. makes a decision. That case begins on January 17, roughly the same time that the Supreme Court hears the case. That means that two different courts on different judicial levels will hear the same case at the same time.

Fortunately, the U.S. Supreme Court will not address the constitutionality of the landmark federal voting rights law aimed at protecting minorities in states with a history of racial discrimination. (Unless, of course, it changes its mind and goes far beyond the Constitution and what it was asked to do as it did in Citizens United.)

With the uncertainty of district boundaries,Texas moved its primary from March 6 to April 3. The state needs a decision by the middle of February to keep the current date for the primary. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said, however, that the court might not move that rapidly.

Texas caused the delay themselves by seeking pre-clearance from the federal court in Washington, D.C. instead of letting the Justice Department make the decision. They gambled that the court would be more sympathetic to their redistricting and lost. Then they decided to win without a trial by rejecting an early trial date.

Two months ago, the three-judge court of both Republican and Democrat appointees ruled unanimously that the state had not proved that its plan was not discriminatory and ordered a trial. The same court also accepted the interim electoral map from a different three-judge federal court in Texas which had rejected the state plan.

In its most recent step Texas moved on to the U.S. Supreme Court that blocked the plan from the federal court in Texas and agreed to review that same plan at the same time as the pre-clearance court in Washington considers the plan.

The Supreme Court faces a serious dilemma. They can’t default to the existing map because of the population growth, but the Republicans’ new map hasn’t been pre-cleared under the Voting Rights Act and probably illegally minimizes minority voting rights. Texas claims that another court’s interim plan is invalid because the court in Texas “substituted its judgment” for the Legislature’s without any finding of legal violations. Pam Karlan, Stanford law professor, has pointed out that the Supreme Court threw out one of the redrawn districts on the basis that it illegally minimized Latino voting power.

Karlan’s description of the case is classic: “Texas’ claim that this process has bogged down and, therefore, it should somehow be excused [from complying with the Voting Rights Act] is a little bit reminiscent of the claim of somebody who kills his parents and then throws himself on the mercy of the court because he’s an orphan.”

Just two years, after the U.S. Supreme Court turned elections over to corporations, it has another case that could drastically change elections in the United States, moving the power farther away from the people and handing it to the top 1 percent. This court doesn’t bother with constitutional issues: it just forges ahead to move the country further into the morass of the fundamentalist right. It’s possible that they’ll declare Texas an orphan after it has killed its parents.

1 Comment »

  1. Amazing you can keep up with these connivers.


    Comment by lynchly — January 9, 2012 @ 10:09 PM | Reply

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