Although the San Antonio Court’s redistricting hearing was scheduled for May 29th and the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to decide Shelby Co. (challenge to the constitutionality of preclearance requirements under section 5 of the Voting Rights Act) by the end of June, Republican Gov. Rick Perry went ahead and called a special session to begin considering on May 27th
Legislation which ratifies and adopts the interim redistricting plans ordered by the federal district court as the permanent plans for districts used to elect members of the Texas House of Representatives, Texas Senate and United States House of Representatives.
Credit: The Economist
Michael Li tweeted updates throughout the San Antonio court’s redistricting hearing, then posted a recap:
[Wednesday’s] redistricting hearing in San Antonio was largely procedural but did have the court wrestling with some key threshold issues.
Indeed, much of the hearing centered the possible legal consequences of the Texas Legislature making the interim maps permanent.
Hispanic and African-American plaintiff groups took strong issue with the State of Texas’ argument that the case would essentially begin anew.
Meanwhile, our Democratic state legislators are fighting during the special session to prevent Republicans from forcing adoption of the 2011 court-drawn interim maps, which are based on Republican-drawn maps that the federal court rejected because they intentionally discriminated:
We are also persuaded by the totality of the evidence that the plan was enacted with discriminatory intent.
Looking back: The court’s finding of discriminatory intent in the last special on congressional redistricting: This post reviews the D.C. court’s findings regarding the 2011 redistricting special session, including its footnote (my emphasis):
The parties have provided more evidence of discriminatory intent than we have space, or need, to address here. Our silence on other arguments, such as potential discriminatory intent in the selective drawing of CD 23 and failure to include a Hispanic ability district in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, reflects only reflects this, and not our view on the merits of these additional claims.
State Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer (D-San Antonio), the Mexican-American Legislative Caucus chair, has called for testimony from Gov. Perry, Attorney General Greg Abbott (R-TX), and lawyers from the state’s redistricting litigation team during House redistricting hearings. And state Rep. Garnet Coleman (D-Houston) is filing alternate maps.
Background Regarding Texas Redistricting
Texas Redistricting & Election Law: A Texas redistricting tip sheet
For those like me who have trouble keeping up with Texas’ redistricting saga, Michael Li has written a helpful post that defines key terms, then links to a comprehensive list of sources:
Li’s blog Texas Redistricting & Election Law is the one to follow for the most comprehensive and up-to-date reports regarding redistricting.
Burnt Orange Report: A Brief History of Blocker Bills in Redistricting Special Sessions
Katherine Haenschen at BOR came out swinging after Republican Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst falsely claimed that having blocker bills has not been traditional during Senate special sessions (emphasis original):
The biggest issue in the Senate in terms of the special session on redistricting will be whether the 2/3rds rule is in effect. As explained previously on BOR, the 2/3rds rule requires 21 Senators to vote to suspend the rules to bring a bill up out of order. With 12 Democrats in the 31-member body, the 2/3rds rule gives our party the leverage to stop bad things from coming up to a vote if we stick together.
However, the 2/3rds rule only exists if there’s a “Blocker Bill” in place to necessitate suspension of the rules in order to bring up other legislation. No blocker, no 2/3rds rule.
Blocker bills are the norm in the Senate. Federal courts — where most Texas redistricting schemes end up because they’re intentionally discriminatory — don’t like seeing rule changes for redistricting legislation, because it usually means one side (here, the Republicans) are up to no good and trying to change the rules to win the game.
Cross-posted from orange.