Tom DeLay's redistricting plan will get a look
by the Supreme Court.
The U.S. Supreme Court said on Monday that it would decide a challenge by Democrats and minority groups to the controversial 2003 Republican-supported congressional redistricting plan in Texas.
The justices agreed to review a ruling by a federal three-judge panel that upheld the bitterly contested map, which had been strongly supported by U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay of Texas.
Note that Justice Department career lawyers believed the redistricting plan violated the federal Voting Rights Act, but were overruled by the department's political hacks.
Justice Department lawyers concluded that the landmark Texas congressional redistricting plan spearheaded by Rep. Tom DeLay, R-Sugar Land, violated the Voting Rights Act, according to a previously undisclosed memo obtained by The Washington Post.
Senior officials overruled the lawyers, however, and approved the plan.
The memo, unanimously endorsed by six lawyers and two analysts in the department's voting section, says the redistricting plan illegally diluted black and Hispanic voting power in two congressional districts [...]
Mark Posner, former career lawyer at the Civil Rights Division under both Republican and Democratic administrations, writes:
The DOJ analysis team included a large and varied group of individuals: the Chief of the Civil Rights Division's Voting Section, a Section Deputy Chief, four line attorneys, a statistician, and a civil rights analyst. Together, they set forth their conclusion and recommendation in a 73-page memorandum that carefully, and in great detail, considered each of the arguments made by the state in favor of preclearance, as well as the arguments of the opponents.
As required by Section 5, the memorandum looked at whether the redistricting was motivated by a discriminatory purpose, and whether the plan would have a discriminatory effect. The memorandum sided with the state on the purpose issue, concluding that partisan politics, not race or ethnicity, drove the redistricting process.
But the crux of the memorandum was its analysis of discriminatory effect: relying on a close examination of recent Texas elections, it concluded that the plan would reduce the ability of minority voters to effectively participate in the political process, the test for discriminatory effect under Section 5.
More specifically, according to the memorandum, the plan failed to pass muster under each and every factor the Supreme Court has established for gauging whether or not a redistricting plan will reduce minority electoral opportunity. This was not a close case, the career staff informed the AAG. Nonetheless, the plan was precleared.
That memorandum (PDF) should theoretically be strong evidence in the case. But don't hold your breath. Remember who sits on the current Supreme Court.
Comments are closed on this story.