Texas Redistricting

The Republicans won the court case. What are the chances of this going to the Supreme Court and what are the chances it will be overturned? I think it will go to the Court , but will not be overturned.


This is legal. It probably shouldn’t be, but it is.

There is something screwy when legislatures can pretty much decide the outcome of elections.

And in general, there’s something very wrong about the fact that many incumbents have the power to district themselves so that they never need face a serious re-election threat. Our democracy is not well served by a lack of competition.

I wept.

I thought it was rather well done, myself. They clearly stated the obvious: it was perfectly legal. Shouldn’t be, but is, and somebody should do something about that, but not the Federal Court in question.

Just as they said, it was a nekkid and unscrupulous move to stack the deck and keep the Pubbies in control. Really putrid. But putrid, unscrupulous, and nekkid ain’t illegal. Oughta be, but isn’t.

Good call. And if the people won’t step to the plate, they pretty much deserve what they get. If the people lead, the leaders will follow.

Redistricting is always an ugly, highly political process. It just so happens that previous lines favored democrats, but this time the pendulum has swung somewhat the other direction. It’s not like the old map was fair and the new one is unfair - they’re both far and unfair in similar (but opposite polarity) ways.

Are they really? Not all ways to draw districts are equally fair - that’s why we have the word “gerrymandering”.

CurtC, I’ve followed this redistricting battle quite a while and one thing I haven’t seen proven is a statement like yours “the previous lines favored democrats”. Do you have some evidence of this favoring? All the arguements I have seen before seemed to rely on abstracting out critical factors like the actual candidates/platforms/issues/districts and working with(often incomplete) sets of state-level data and making assertions about district-level races. The often-cited “57% of votes cast were for Republicans and only 46% of the representation is Republican” was actually BS. The 57% number doesn’t tell you that there were two districts where the Democratic incumbent wasn’t even opposed, so there were two whole districts(a district is approx 660,000 people) where no one voted for their incumbent because no one was running against them. I’m not saying the old map was fair, unfair, good, bad, or ugly. All I’m asking is that someone who has made the same kind of assertion you have that the old maps were actually unfair actually prove it. The Republicans tried to prove the old maps were unfair in the courts twice and they were shot down both times. About six or seven people here on the SDMB have made the same assertion but when I asked them to provide proof they also failed to actually prove the old maps had an undue influence on the races.

My browser is messing up a bit right now, but there is a thread in this forum that I started about Texas Redistricting a couple of months ago which lays the case out reasonably well(even if it is somewhat long-winded). I’ll see if I can find a link.


Apportionment cannot be fair. Just look at the problem of dividing representatives among the states… You get “round off” errors that could (in theory) cost a state a representative…

Every so often, someone proposes a law that representative districts (within a state) must be geometrically convex… It’s a kinda silly approach, but it would certainly limit this kind of chicanery…


At very least it should be taken out of the hands of the legislature themselves. I don’t trust either party not to abuse this power when they have a strong majority. In the past it didn’t come up because redistricting is a bitch and they avoided it because it was such a headache. It was done in response to a court order or in response to a census because to do it more often would kick the ass of the already-overworked legislature. Now that one party has set the precedent of doing redistricting for political motives, I’d guess it will become far more common with the political gerrymander being the next big thing.

There is a proposed constitituional ammendment for Texas which would set up a redistricting comission which is independent of the legislature(four members from each party, elected by the legislature, but not members thereof) instead of tying up the entire legislature in it. I don’t think this is a particularly good solution either, but it is probably better than what Texas went through this year with special session after special session at a tremendous cost to the taxpayer for a political goal.

Here is a link to a previous thread on the issue, lots of discussion about claims that the previous maps were unfair. Last time - Oklahoma. This time New Orleans! (Texas Redistricting).


Instead of banning gay marriage, what we need is a Constitutional Amendment that requires that election districts be drawn by non-partisan committees, or bipartisan committees with equal number Dems and Repubs.

Or hell, lines have to be drawn by computers, using only population figures and no other demographic data. That would be fair.

Oh… geez. Go look up “gerrymandering”. This practice has been around since 1812, and is not limited to Texas Republicans.


And you’d better believe that the Texas Democrats would do the exact same thing if they were in the same position- they’re not saints either!

Thank you most sincerely for your concern for improving my vocabulary, but I am quite aware of the definition of “gerrymandering”.

and your point about the dearth of saints in Texas politics is well taken, it very well may be that the Dems are equally unscrupulous, putrid and grasping. But it is the Pubs who are demonstrating these qualities at the moment. The immediate and factual as compared to the theoretical, you see?

I’m no geometer, but would that make districting to follow population centers really really difficult?

bump, at issue was the sheer egregiousness of the gerrymandering in this case. They were literally targeting Democratic voters and districts with a precision never seen in Texas, at least, before (AFAICT). Austin, apparently the most Democratic city in Texas, has been carved up so well that it won’t produce a single Democratic congressman. That’s absurd.

I know both sides do this, though. Which is why the drawing of lines should not be left in the hands of partisans.

bump, the Democrats did control the Texas legislature for many years, did they not? Did they do this? They did not. Your claimed point is false on its face.

But thanks for yet another example, if any were needed, of the partisan right thrashing around for a tu quoque, inventing one if necessary, to avoid facing the consequences of what it’s really done.

Now, how do you guys feel about the rumblings of Illinois and Pennsylvania’s Democratic-controlled legislatures doing the same thing? Call it self-defense if you like, retaliation if you must, but would you accept it with the same equanimity with which you tell the Democrats to get over it?

spectrum, good idea, has often actually worked that way in practice, but not possible in this poisoned environment. mtgman, the existing Texas lines were drawn in the way you suggest. The problem is in getting everyone to respect the rules of the game, though, innit?

I’ve heard Rep. Martin Frost suggest that the decision annuls the Voting Rights Act, by dismembering racial-minority areas in such a way as to eliminate minority power at the Congressional level. Not sure he’s right, but if he is, it could be grounds for reversal. The same partisan five who put Bush in power have ultimate authority here too, though, and they can once again limit their consideration to the present circumstances if they think they need to.

Do you really want to put political parties into the the Constitution? Since you not going to have the elected representives of the people redistricting, how can you justify not including representitives of other parties by law?

I spelt representatives wrong twice.

By walking 7 blocks from my house in downtown Austin, I go through the district that covers the hill country (which makes sence I guess), the district that covers McAllen (it looks like a snake only much longer and skinnier), and the district that my parents are in in Houston. Its pretty funny if you know Texas geography.

I’d rather it be done by computers that know nothing about party affiliation or voting history.

However, if the parties did have to be represented, I would prefer it be an even number… no, I’d demand it be an even number. And I would see no reason to include minor parties that are rounding errors. They’re not the ones being gerrymandered against. So you set a threshold. Say, eight Republicans, eight Democrats and if any third party gets more than 10% or 15% of the vote, they get two seats. Or something like that.

There’s got to be a better way to draw up districts. I don’t think either side (or, in deference to Pepsi Classic, ANY side) should be able to game the process in their favor. What are some of the other options? Since the use of computer-crunched demographic data has made this sort of precision gerrymandering possible, why not use the same data to divide the state up as evenly as possible (population-wise) into the most geographically compact districts possible?

The problem, of course, is that the people who benefit from gerrymandering would have to be the ones to vote to strip themselves of this power. And I’m talking both sides here, not just the Republicans.