WASHINGTON - In a 5 to 4 vote, the U.S. Supreme Court keeps in place almost all of the controversial state redistricting plan enacted by a Republican legislature after the 2010 census. This is after a three-judge panel in San Antonio had ruled in August that the districts did discriminate.
“I think supreme court did the right thing to let Texans run their own elections, and not have the courts overrule the will of the people,” Harris County Republican Party Chair Paul Simpson said.
Redistricting happens after every census, but let's review: why would the legislature care how they were drawn?
“Most voters have party tendencies, and we know that how past elections went, so if you draw the line carefully to include different clumps of voters, you can pretty much predict not which individual will win, but which political party will win,” Political Science Professor Richard Murray at the University of Houston said.
Part of the plaintiffs case, the Texas NAACP challenged the maps made after the 2010 census focused way too closely on race while drawing their lines.
“I know the defendants argument is that this had nothing to do with race, that it had to do with politics, but in all honesty we all know and they know, that in America today politics is race,” Houston NAACP President Dr. James Douglas said.
But five U.S. justices disagreed with the lower court's ruling in all but one district in Texas. District 90, which sort of surrounds Fort Worth, is an impermissible racial gerrymander.
Texas 90 will have to be redrawn, and the changes will also affect surrounding districts.
“Most redistricting decisions are below the radar for most voters...candidates of course pay a lot of attention, incumbents pay a lot of attention...well you should pay close attention when the lines are being redrawn in 2021, because that locks you in for what kind of representation you're likely to have,” Murray said.
Both Texas Governor Greg Abbott and State Attorney General Ken Paxton tweeted celebrating the decision by the Supreme Court.
As we approach another census in 2020, and a presidential election in the same year, 'who' gets to vote 'where' will become an even bigger deal.
Now if we could just get more people to vote.