The Texas redistricting plaintiffs are getting desperate for a ruling, out of fear that further delay will endanger fixed maps for the 2018 elections. This case has been going on for the better part of a decade. Plaintiffs have now submitted in this letter and this motion for judgment before the three-judge court asking for relief to come very soon.
I have no inside knowledge of what is going on behind the scenes, but I’ve long had a guess, which I’ll now make public: Judge Smith, who is a likely dissenter from the ruling, is dragging his feet precisely to delay a final resolution until the 2018 elections (and now until there is a new (conservative) 9th Justice confirmed to the Supreme Court.
Here is some bits from my November 2015 post on this case and the unconscionable delay:
The three-judge panel, which has been hearing permutations of this case for about half the redistricting cycle, today issued a 7-page unanimous order rejecting some of the plaintiffs’ request for a preliminary injunction to change the redistricting plans pending a further resolution on the merits.
When this motion was filed, I saw it as an attempt to prod what plaintiffs must believe to be a dilatory three-judge court. But today the three-judge court essentially said two things: (1) we are working really hard on a final decision but we are not there yet; and (2) doing yet another map is just going to confuse things and make them worse.
I expect what is going on behind the scenes is that we are not going to see a unanimous opinion. Instead we are going to see a split opinion, and if Texas is on the losing end of things, a quick appeal to the Supreme Court. (Maybe an appeal if Texas wins too, but that’s less certain.)
The wheels of Justice turn slowly, but if they turn much more slowly we’ll be gearing up for the next redistricting cycle! The best case scenario now is a ruling in a case originally filed in 2011 affecting the 2018 elections.
And here’s a post from April 2016 where I called the delay unconscionable.