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October 18, 2004

SCOTUS rules; Should we be prepared for re-re-re-districting in 2005?

By Jim Dallas

The Supreme Court of the United States has revived the Texas redistricting lawsuit, forcing a partisan re-match in federal court.

The ruling won't affect this year's map, but might result in changes for 2006.

Posted by Jim Dallas at October 18, 2004 12:45 PM | TrackBack


Good news, although it would have been nice to have happened awhile ago. Imagine, we could have four elections in a row with radically different maps (2000,2002,2004,2006).

Posted by: Byron L at October 18, 2004 12:50 PM

Guys, not to rain on your parade, but despite Charles Soechting's extremely disingenuous statement to the contrary as quoted in today's Houston Chronicle, this wasn't a ruling on the merits by the Supreme Court today.

Rather, it's purely procedural -- a recognition that the Supreme Court decided the Pennsylvania case (Vieth) after the three-judge panel in the Texas case (Perry) had made its decision, and hence that the three-judge panel in Perry ought to get to take another look.

But Vieth didn't change the law. (If anything, it made it more likely that when and if a five-Justice majority ever actually forms on these subjects, it will be to hold such cases "non-justiciable.") So there's absolutely no reason to think that the three judge panel will change its ruling when, as directed in today's two-sentence order, it gives "further consideration" to the case.

The only scenario where this could result in the map being changed before the 2010 Census is if either (a) someone like Anthony Kennedy changes the way he voted on Vieth when Perry pops back up to the Supremes in a few months, or (b) the three-judge panel takes an incredibly long time in its "further consideration," Kerry wins on Nov. 2, a couple of Supreme Court Justices retire, and Kerry immediately replaces them with new Justices who are willing to make new and very different law.

Posted by: Beldar at October 18, 2004 04:59 PM

What Beldar (the world's greatest lawyer - just ask him, he'll tell you) fails to mention is that the Supreme Court VACATED the lower Court's Judgment. The lower Court's judgment is a nullity. Essentially, the case is going to start all over from scratch.

If the Supreme Court wanted to nip this case in the bud, it could have easily disposed of the case by approving the lower court's judgment. (Technically these types of cases [3 judge panel cases] cannot have cert denied - they are one of the few kinds of cases with a right of appeal to the SCOTUS - but usually the SCOTUS has summarily affirmed the majority of these types of cases [three judge panel cases] w/o oral argument).

While it is not as ruling on the merits, it clearly sends a message that the S. Court had SERIOUS concerns about the case. While the war is far from over, it is clearly a Democratic (both with a "d" and a "D") victory in a key redistricting battle.

The key now is whether the three judge panel will "fast track" the case or let it languish for a while.

Concerning Beldar's interpretation of Veith, the situation in Penn was light years different from Tex. Re-Redistricting is a case of first impression with the only justification being bitter partisanship. Another key issue is the joke of a ruling by the 3 judge panel that the "old" 24th was not a "minority opportunity" district. When blacks have #s to effectively decide the Dem primary (mostly in FW part of District) and the D numbers are such that the D wins the election, how can that NOT be a "minority opportunity" district?

Posted by: WhoMe? at October 19, 2004 09:17 AM
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