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Supreme Court: CD-23 is Unconstitutional

by: Phillip Martin

Wed Jun 28, 2006 at 10:04 AM CDT

The United States Supreme Court ruled this morning that CD-23 is unconstitutional. The district (map is here) is represented by Congressman Henry Bonilla, runs from Laredo to just outside of El Paso on the border, with a northern boundary running along Interstate 10. The court also ruled that the map did not constitute partisan gerrymandering, but also was divided as to whether or not such an issue could/should be reviewed in the future.

To read the Supreme Court's ruling, click here. For a review about the redistricting process and what happened to CD 23, go here.

**Update - 10:30am**

The Statesman has reported about a possible domino effect:

Redrawing that districts will force nearby District 25, the Austin-to-Mexico district held by Democrat Lloyd Doggett of Austin, to be redrawn, according to the court opinion.

The Statesman reporting is backed up by this part of the Court ruling:

Their equal protection claim as to the drawing of District 25 need not be confronted because that district will have to be redrawn to remedy the District 23 violation. - Page 5-6 of the Court ruling.

These changes could have effects on CD-21 (Congressman Lamar Smith's district, where John Courage is running) in addition to CD-25, Congressman Doggett's district.

***Update -- 11:30am***

The three-judge panel will have the responsibility of deciding what to do with the redistricting map. The first decision is when they redraw the map for -- this election cycle, or the next. The second decision, then, is whether they will redraw the map themselves, and accept three maps from both Democrats and Republicans, OR whether they kick it back to the Texas Legislature for them to redraw the lines during the 80th Regular Session starting in January.

Exactly how far the dominoes fall, we'll have to wait and see. I'd imagine that CD 23, 28, 21, and 25 will have to be redrawn. As we wait to get more analysis, you can play around with an an interactive Congressional map of Texas. Click on the "U.S. Congressional Districts" link to get to the map.

***Update -- 12:30pm***

From a press release from Rep. Richard Raymond, who represents Webb County, at the center of CD-23 and the district that must be re-drawn:

"The United States Supreme Court ruled that the mid-decade Texas Republican plan to redistrict congressional boundaries "rode roughshod" over the rights of Hispanics in South Texas, and it must be remedied...

From the very beginning, common sense told us that Laredo is one community of interest, and the only reason it was split up was to give the Republicans an unfair advantage so that they could elect another Republican to Congress from Texas -- at the expense of Hispanics, Laredo and South Texas...

The win was forged by an alliance of the League of United Latin American Citizens, the American GI Forum and the Washington, D,C. - based Lone Star Project, headed by Matt Angle, a native of Euless, Texas.

"Matt and his group did an exceptional job of coordinating information, the attorneys and the presentations.  This shows the kind of victory that can be achieved when people work together."

To read the full release click here for the journal entry. I'd like to be the first to say, welcome, Rep. Raymond, to the BOR community!


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Great news!!! (0.00 / 0)
I want more great news.

Thanks... (0.00 / 0)
I just saw that post, and incorporated it into my "update." I'm trying to read through the Court's opinion -- and in so doing, missed some of this early coverage. Thanks for the help!

Now, a very great man once said that some people rob you with a fountain pen.

[ Parent ]
Get a grip Sonia (2.00 / 1)
This isn't great news - it's just so-so news.

The supremes upheld virtually the entire Delay redistricting plan and worse, one of its underlying rationales - that it's okay for the Legislature to redraw congressional lines anytime it wants to.

Say a Dem wins the 14th or Lampson wins, sounds to me like the Republican Leg can defeat them simply by drawing them new Districts next year - this is a victory?

[ Parent ]
Hey that post was at 9:18 when the headline was CD23 not valid (0.00 / 0)
Obviously a lot changed when more news came in, and it wasn't so great after all.
Considering we have a very conservative SCOTUS, that we got a partial victory on the VRA is actually a good thing.

[ Parent ]
KBH Net Neutrality vote (0.00 / 0)
Sorry about OT, but urgent.

Call KBH -- again. I just did and was told that she is basically taking the pulse of her constituents on the issue. Call 202-224-5922 NOW.

Oh she's heard from me already (0.00 / 0)
Trust me.  The office wouldn't say what her position was.  I hope that her sinking poll nubmers give her a clue.

[ Parent ]
Be Careful What You Wish For (0.00 / 0)
After reading the full opinion, I believe the headline of this article (and much of the analysis currently on the MSM news sites) is incorrect.  That CD-23 is no longer a Latino district was not in dispute.  What the court decided was that the new majority-Latino CD-25 does not count as a replacement since it is both non-compact and contains disparate Latino areas. (see top of p.29 of opinion)

Presumably a plan that left CD-23 alone and created more compact Latino districts to replace 28, 25, etc. would pass muster.

Worse, the court explicitly allows mid-decade redistricting, and found that the partisan gerrymander claims were not valid.

Keeping this in the news is good for Dems, certainly.  But it also allows for more mapping mischief - be careful what you wish for.

What? (0.00 / 0)
As stated on page 28, the three Gingles requirements (what forces them to re-draw CD 23) are:

(1) the racial group is “‘“sufficiently large and geographically compact to constitute a majority in a single-member district”’”;

(2) the racial group is “‘“politically cohesive”’”; and

(3) the majority “‘“vot[es] sufficiently as a bloc to enable it . . . usually to defeat the minority’s preferred candidate.”’”

Then, on page 32:

"Considering the district in isolation, the three Gingles requirements are satisfied. The State argues, nonetheless, that it met its §2 obligations by creating new District 25 as an offsetting opportunity district.

And finally, on page 38 of the ruling:

"Appellants have thus satisfied all three Gingles requirements as to District 23, and the creation of new District 25 does not remedy the problem."

I'm pretty sure the MSM and this post are right.

Now, a very great man once said that some people rob you with a fountain pen.

[ Parent ]
Re: What? (0.00 / 0)
My point is that CD-23 was not in dispute - the Repubs and the district court did not consider it a Latino district.  Therefore whether or not it violates the VRA is irrelevant.  The critical issue lies in CD-25, which was designed to replace CD-23 as the sixth Latino district.  If the court had held that CD-25 was an acceptable Latino district, it would have allowed the map to stand as is.  Instead, it held that CD-25 is not compact enough, and contains two disparate Latino groups.

Yes, the court first had to find that CD-23 was no longer a Latino district in order to make this ruling, but this was already known.

CD-23 is unlikely to change, IMO.  Instead we will see other districts redrawn to ensure six compact Latino districts.

[ Parent ]
I don't know... (5.00 / 1)
I'm trusting the SCOTUS blog on this one. But we'll see...

Now, a very great man once said that some people rob you with a fountain pen.

[ Parent ]
nope (0.00 / 0)
CD23 is changing for sure. Webb County will be in one district.

[ Parent ]
Redrawing Doggett... 25 (0.00 / 0)
According to the opinion, District 25 does NOT have to be redrawn... The reporter got this completely wrong.  District 25 was drawn to make a new "opportunity district" for Latinos because in the "opportunity district" District 23... it was split. The state mistakenly assumed that if it created a new District 25 of majority latinos, that they could dilute the voting power of latinos in Laredo.  This was incorrect, due to "compactness" considerations.  As it stands, District 23 HAS to be redrawn to include all of Laredo (and hence all the voting block of latinos). The new District created does not have to have those compactness considerations

Read my post: (0.00 / 0)
"Their equal protection claim as to the drawing of District 25 need not be confronted because that district will have to be redrawn to remedy the District 23 violation."

That's from the Court ruling, on page 5-6.

Now, a very great man once said that some people rob you with a fountain pen.

[ Parent ]
there is also (1.75 / 4)
a possibility of haivng a special session this summer to redraw the districts

xpatraited texan ... (0.00 / 0)
why did you 0 rate the above comment? that is straight from an experienced election law lawyer's mouth ...

[ Parent ]
Re: (0.00 / 0)
It is unlikely this will effect the elections in November.  Doing so would constitute an unfair burden on many candidates.  More than likely, any re-districting will take effect immediately following this election - so if it is good news, then it's good news for 2008.


Christian Liberal is NOT an oxymoron.

Unfair burden... (5.00 / 2)
How about the illegal disenfranchisement Hispanics in the Valley have faced for the past three years? I think this should be fixed immediately. Yes, it's going to hurt some congressional campaigns -- and that's terrible. But there are literally hundreds of thousands of voters that deserve to have their voting rights returned to them.

Now, a very great man once said that some people rob you with a fountain pen.

[ Parent ]
So basically: (0.00 / 0)
redrawing mid-decade to hurt Democrats is fine, but weakening Hispanic power is not.

Bonilla is in for a hell of a race in two years. 2002 all over again. Do they combine Cuellar and Bonilla again by shifting Cuellar's predominantly Democratic Laredo base into CD-23, or do they keep the two separate?

This is wild. I'm thrilled.

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