The Latest on Texas Redistricting Litigation and the Supreme Court

The Texas Tribune:

Monday’s the day candidates can begin filing for office, and after a flurry of legal activity over the holidays, they now know what districts they’re seeking to represent.

Probably.

The state has filed appeals to block court-ordered maps for the Texas House and Senate, and a similar objection to new congressional districts is in the works. Attorney General Greg Abbott also hired a noted specialist in Supreme Court appeals — former U.S. Solicitor General Paul Clement — to help his lawyers with the redistricting fight.

Judge Smith in his latest dissent (this time from the denial of a motion for a stay in the Congressional redistricting case) helpfully writes what could serve as the questions presented in the state’s expected Supreme Court filings to stay implementation of the court’s maps.

More on the Supreme Court machinations from SCOTUSBlog and from the Texas Redistricting Blog here, here, and here.

Finally, a reader of the blog sends along the following response to my post on this dispute from yesterday:

The “dig” at Texas from the two judges on the three judge panel in San Antonio makes no sense. The implication is that a formal Section 5 pre-clearance rejection letter from DOJ setting out DOJ’s complaints is distinguishable from DOJ’s filings with the DC panel setting out those same objections. That’s a distinction without a difference. Had Texas gone to DOJ first instead of a DC panel, they would still appeal the DOJ’s ruling on the House and Congressional maps to a DC panel and thus, they are undoubtedly further along in the legal proceedings by having gone straight to court. If the court is implying that a formal rejection letter from DOJ would permit them to leave unopposed districts unchanged in their interim House and Congressional maps, then they are merely rationalizing a decision to modify unopposed districts that they apparently made for other reasons. The point of Judge Smith’s dissent is that the court already has the power to leave those districts alone because DOJ’s filing with the DC court sets out no objections to them. The unopposed districts may not be legally pre-cleared, but for the purposes of an interim map, there is a strong argument that they should be left alone. For example, since DOJ did not oppose the Senate map in the DC filings, the San Antonio court should have considered that as weighing heavily in favor of the state, permitting them to adopt as an interim map the Senate map created by the Legislature.

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