When the Texas legislature passed new redistricting maps in 2011, it sure seemed that the lines had been drawn to dilute the power of Democratic-leaning Hispanic voters in favor of Republicans. State leaders swore that wasn't the case, but, rather than taking them to an unfriendly Justice Department for a review mandated by the Voting Rights Act, Attorney General Greg Abbott opted for a much more familiar option: he sued the federal government.
Michael Li had a good breakdown a while back of what was at issue and at stake. Texas was essentially trying to show in court both that the new maps were not drawn with a discriminatory intent and that they don't have a discriminatory effect by diluting the voting strength of minorities.
Today, the three-judge panel of George W. Bush appointees Rosemary Collyer and Thomas Griffith and Obama appointee Beryl Howell determined in a sprawling, 154-page opinion that the maps are indeed discriminatory.
Li is parsing out the specifics -- Texas failed to show an absence of discriminatory intent in redrawing state Sen. Wendy Davis' Fort Worth district -- but writes that it appears to be a "sweeping victory" for the feds.
Abbott took the news with characteristic humility:
The D.C. Court just ruled against Texas' redistricting maps. Will immediately appeal to— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) August 28, 2012
He expounded upon the tweet in a written statement.
Today's decision extends the Voting Rights Act beyond the limits intended by Congress and beyond the boundaries imposed by the Constitution. The Attorney General's Office will continue defending the maps enacted by the Texas Legislature and will immediately take steps to appeal this flawed decision to the U.S. Supreme Court. The Washington DC court's decision applies to the maps originally enacted by the Texas Legislature--so the November elections will proceed as planned under the interim maps drawn by the federal court in San Antonio.
So it's over, except not.