Expert: US Supreme Court Weighs In on Texas Redistricting Flap

On Friday (Jan. 20), U.S. Supreme Court justices unanimously instructed a lower Texas court to revisit the election map it had drawn, which competed with one drawn by the Texas Legislature. While Republicans hail this as a victory, the decision has extended the uncertainty of what happens next in this voting rights case.

Pitch

On Friday (Jan. 20), U.S. Supreme Court justices unanimously instructed a lower Texas court to revisit the election map it had drawn, which competed with one drawn by the Texas Legislature. While Republicans hail this as a victory, the decision has extended the uncertainty of what happens next in this voting rights case.

 

A Texas Tech University political scientist can discuss why the unprecedented controversy has created questions as to how or if incumbents will plan to run for reelection as well as what happens next with the dueling maps.

 

Expert

Craig Goodman, assistant professor of political science, (806) 742-4047 office, (806) 790-8715 mobile, craig.goodman@ttu.edu.

 

Talking Points

  • The map drawn by state legislators will likely allow Republicans to gain a few more seats in the House delegation and allow several ambitious Republican candidates to get a foothold in Washington, D.C.
  • The map drawn by justices in San Antonio favored Democrats because of the growth of the Hispanic population in the state and allows the Democratic Party to avoid some really tough fights – notably Doggett v. Castro.
  • At the state level, the map drawn by the legislature imperils a few Democratic incumbents and allows the party to avoid some very tough Republican primaries.
  • The most significant effect for 2012 is that the primary date was moved to April 3. The later primary date could mean less interest in the presidential contest and lower turnout could benefit some of the more conservative Republican candidates seeking the nomination in state and federal races. This could matter a great deal in the Senate race and whether David Dewhurst gets the necessary 50 percent of the vote to avoid a run-off.

Quotes

  • “It is not entirely clear what happens next other than the federal district court will need to redraw new maps that account for the state’s plan and provide an explanation for drawing districts.”
  • “This does not undermine the Voting Rights Act because the Supreme Court allowed the San Antonio court to consider whether some of the state’s proposed districts violated Section 2 (equal protection).”
  • “The window still remains very tight to meet all of the deadlines to hold the primaries on April 3.”
  • “There is nothing comparable to the current situation in Texas history where so much uncertainty exists at the filing deadline for candidates.  The closest similarities occurred in 1994 when a federal court struck down three districts under the state’s redistricting plan and 2006 when the U.S. Supreme Court required some minor alterations following the mid-decade redistricting.”
  • “The tougher issue right now is that planning a campaign is hard because you don’t know where you need to build name recognition, whether donors will give money.”
  • “Incumbents always start every campaign with an advantage because they are already known and none of the existing congressional districts with the exception of Lloyd Doggett’s 25th have been dramatically altered.  However, for a freshman like Blake Farenthold (R-Corpus Christi) in the 27th District, the uncertainty is a bigger problem because his district could be drawn further north into Ron Paul’s district. There are Republicans who have been waiting to run for a while.  The bottom line is that incumbents will be able to raise sufficient funds to compete.”