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                               The politics of redistricting in the state of Texas

Benjamin E Griffith called redistribution the purest form of political blood sport. The civil rights movement made the country realise that there are so many other ways in which minorities are subliminally subjugated and discriminated against without necessarily being grossly abused [i]  The US Supreme Court realised many years ago that even when all other rights are provided to a people, if they are denied the right to vote freely and fairly then all other rights are illusions. Politicians have propagated this sort of subliminal discrimination, even when their intention is not to deny the minorities their rights but instead to retain power for their party or themselves through redistricting. Partisan gerrymandering, also described as political gerrymandering is the practice of drawing state and district lines so that elected leaders can retain a certain segment of voters within certain boundaries and create a haven of sorts that provides him with the necessary votes or leaves voters who would otherwise not vote for him in without [ii] Racial gerrymandering on the other hand is the practice of drawing up boundaries for racial purposes, that either keeps a race in or out of certain jurisdictions hence effectively achieving a desired goal ii Both racial and political gerrymandering has been effectively used together by state legislatures in recent times. The US Supreme Court has intervened in some of the more obvious occurrences.[1]
 
 
 
 
Legally, the state of Texas is required to redistrict every ten years after a census is done. The redistricting is meant to capture the demographic changes that occur within the decade preceding the census and ensure adequate and proper representation of all citizens within the state senate, the state house and the US congressional house.
Prior to the election of former president George W. Bush; democrats had previously predominantly led Texas for more than a century 2 The Republicans, since taking over the state legislature of Texas has since devised and executed many ways of assuming full control of the state and preventing the resurgence of democrat dominance in the state. In 2003 the Texas legislature enacted a redistricting plan. The previous one had been done by the 1991 by the then democratic leadership of the state. At the time of enacting the new plans, Texas was required by law to seek pre-clearance from the federal government with regards to the voting rights violations act. The redistricting that was done in the year 2003 had been specifically targeting about ten districts that had Democratic representatives and avoiding the fewer number of districts that had minority Democratic incumbents
After the census that took place in 2010, the Texas state legislature went ahead and redistricted the state. This redistricting, once in place will last and will be used for election and representation purposes until a new redistricting is done after the 2020 census data is collected and analysed [2]
 
 
There had been several cases challenging these redistricting cases in early 2011 but they did not yield the desired outcomes for the plaintiffs. In June the same year the governor signed the plans for the redistricting for the Texan House of Representatives, Texan senate and US congress. The state of Texas then filed a suit for clearance of the plans because it required doing this in accordance with the voting rights act3. This redistricting was challenged in the US District Court for the Western District of Texas in San Antonio by plaintiffs led by state senator Wendy Davis on the Premise that the redistricting was specifically targeting to dilute the voting block of minorities, in this case, the Latino population so the Texan state congressmen can maintain their political strongholds. The case Perez v. Perry had raised one important issue, whether the state had purposefully done the redistributing to racially bias a section of the voters therefore contravening the voting rights act and the spirit of the constitution.
The U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas reached a final conclusive judgment of the Texas Senate plan in the year 2013 and made it plan permanent giving the state senate of Texas the permission to be use it in the Texas Senate election[3]
As regards the redistricting plans that had been drawn up for the US Congress and the Texas House, the court:

  • On the grounds of mootness, the court denied a request by the State of Texas to dismiss claims about the 2011 redistricting maps.
  • The court went ahead and ordered that interim plans for the 2014 elections, the maps that were enacted in 2013 to be utilized instead.
  • Then court also granted, under Section 2 and the Constitution, that the plaintiffs leave to amend and or supplement their pleadings to assert claims against the 2013 redistricting plans
  • The court finally also granted the plaintiffs leave to ask for relief under section 3(c) of the Voting Rights Act. Plaintiffs made arguments that the Court to invoke the provisions of the Voting Rights Act and put Texas under preclearance as the state had gone enacted plans with intention to discriminate by devising the initial 2011 plans.

This year the United State Supreme Court, through it’s landmark ruling, has put in jeopardy and given a stay to those office holders and the republican elite who had hoped that Texas would have maps for the U.S congress and its own House district well in place before the elections slated for 2018.
The High Court went ahead and made other orders that were issued on Tuesday that stopped rulings previously given by lower courts that had effectively invalidated parts of the maps of Texas. Legislators had been found to be discriminatory against colored voters and voters of Hispanic descent. The decision by the Supreme Court went 5-4 with the majority staying. Ken Paxton, the Attorney General of Texas, has appealed the rulings. These rulings would have necessitated the drawing up fresh maps with alternative more inclusive boundaries before the 2018 elections. It is worth noting that the four Justices who have given a dissenting opinion opinion of the majority were Kagan, Ginsburg, Breyer and Sotomayor.
After about 7 years of legal wrangling since the first maps were drawn up in 2011, the new developments could do away with the steps that had been made to acquire a redone map and have it in place before the elections of 2018. Texas verses the democrats, the voting rights and minority groups that have sued the state about the discriminatory redistricting had been initially set to come up with new maps in court a few weeks before, but the hearings were annulled as the Court requested for feedback from the plaintiffs Texas’ hurried request for the court to come in .i
The state made an argument in a brief that said the court would be making a mistake because if the Court proceeded with allowing the drawing up of the maps that the state had proposed to continue uninterrupted, the court would be risking making putting Texas in election chaos for the second time within just one decade.
Administrators and officials of the coming election have pronounced themselves on the matter have saying they require clarification on maps and boundaries before October this year so that they are able to meet the preset deadlines for adequate preparation and so that they are able to provide voter registration information and certificates preventing any delays and setbacks.
 
 
[1] Cox, Gary W., and Mathew D. McCubbins. “Electoral politics as a redistributive game.” The Journal of Politics 48, no. 2 (1986): 370-389.
Endnote
[1] Cox, Gary W., and Mathew D. McCubbins. “Electoral politics as a redistributive game.” The Journal of Politics 48, no. 2 (1986): 370-389.
 
[2] Dixit, Avinash, and John Londregan. “Ideology, tactics, and efficiency in redistributive politics.” The Quarterly Journal of Economics 113, no. 2 (1998): 497-529.
 
[3] Dahlberg, Matz, and Eva Johansson. “On the vote-purchasing behavior of incumbent governments.” American Political Science Review 96, no. 1 (2002): 27-40.
 
[i] Cox, Gary W., and Mathew D. McCubbins. “Electoral politics as a redistributive game.” The Journal of Politics 48, no. 2 (1986): 370-389.
 
[ii] Dixit, Avinash, and John Londregan. “Ideology, tactics, and efficiency in redistributive politics.” The Quarterly Journal of Economics 113, no. 2 (1998): 497-529.
[ii] Levitt, Steven D., and James M. Snyder Jr. “Political parties and the distribution of federal outlays.” American Journal of Political Science (1995): 958-980.
 
 
Bibliography
Dixit, Avinash, and John Londregan. “The determinants of success of special interests in redistributive politics.” the Journal of Politics 58, no. 4 (1996): 1132-1155.
Cox, Gary W., and Mathew D. McCubbins. “Electoral politics as a redistributive game.” The Journal of Politics 48, no. 2 (1986): 370-389.
Dahlberg, Matz, and Eva Johansson. “On the vote-purchasing behavior of incumbent governments.” American Political Science Review 96, no. 1 (2002): 27-40.
Dixit, Avinash, and John Londregan. “Ideology, tactics, and efficiency in redistributive politics.” The Quarterly Journal of Economics 113, no. 2 (1998): 497-529.
Levitt, Steven D., and James M. Snyder Jr. “Political parties and the distribution of federal outlays.” American Journal of Political Science (1995): 958-980.