It’s not over it yet. When a three-judge panel issued their version of Texas’ legislative maps, many – myself included – assumed it was a done deal; get used to the horrible lines. But fortunately for the state’s voters, Attorney General Greg Abbott and legislators aren’t taking this exercise in federal overreach without a fight.
Fundamentally, the responsibility for the drawing of representational maps rests with the legislatures of the several states. The federal courts, when only absolutely necessary, should make only the bare minimum of changes to rectify very clear problems in maps drawn by the states.
Frankly, the judges’ map is a lesson in judicially-mandated gerrymandering.
It makes over-reaching changes to the state’s legislative districts, changing lines for no apparently good reason. Ensuring fairly drawn lines is one thing, proactively re-shaping Texas to suit two (the third judge made his own dissenting map) judges’ agenda is something else entirely.
The attorney general is signaling this week that when the actual order for the maps comes down – it hasn’t yet – he’ll appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court for a stay. Though within the Supreme Court’s prerogative, actually granting a stay would be considered unusual. However, it would be much much less unusual than the wholesale re-draw these federal judges have made. These federal district judges have plunged all of us into a brave new world.
State Rep. Larry Taylor (R-Friendswood) is the chairman of the House Republican Caucus, and currently a candidate for the Texas Senate. He sent a strongly worded letter (pdf format) to Mr. Abbott today noting he is “fully supportive” of efforts to “stop the dramatic overreach by the Federal Judicial panel” that drew the new maps.
Mr. Taylor says the judges’ map has “thwarted the will of Texas voters and ignored judicial precedent.” He accurately described it as a “significant blow” to our “democratic form of government” when unelected judges are able to take such a radical course in affecting political contests.
The judges’ maps were drawn without “input from the affected communities,” writes Mr. Taylor, and split “communities of interest without justification or rationale.”
In conversations with several legislators and legal experts, it’s apparent the only real choice is for Mr. Abbott to fight the imposition of the judges’ maps. Using these imposed lines without a fight would be a farce and a disgrace, essentially disenfranchising every single Texan.
One of our state’s founding fathers, Sam Houston – a Texas president, governor and U.S. senator – once said Texans have “yet to learn submission to any oppression, come from what source it may.”
It’s imperative that we fight this federal overreach, and protect Texas from a nasty form of judicial oppression that would affect our state for a generation to come.