Chronology Correction and Clarification

Blogger Rob Booth, who has the advantage of living in Texas, corrects part of my chronology. By confusing the Texas House of Representatives with the U.S. House of Representatives, my post falsely gives the impression that the current U.S. Congressional districts were drawn up by the Legislative Redistricting Board, which has four Republicans and one Democrat. In fact, the LRB was only involved in drawing up the state congressional districts (i.e., those for the Texas House and the Texas Senate).

So to clarify, the U.S. Congressional Districts case did in fact go to District Judge Paul Davis in Austin. Judge Davis did issue a tentative plan (1065C) based on a proposal by Republican Lt. Gov. Ratliff, who in proposing this plan was apparently acting solely in his role as Lt. Governor, not as a member of the Legislative Redistricting Board (where he only dealt with Texas Congressional Districts). Judge Davis then modified that plan based on a proposal by Democrat Pete Laney, leading to Davis’ final plan, 1089C. I stand by my characterization in the earlier post: “Based on accounts at the time (e.g., here), Davis’ initial plan was likely to tip three districts towards Republicans while the revised plan was likely to leave the balance of power unchanged.” The Texas Supreme Court overturned Davis’ final plan (1089C), sending the U.S. districting issue to a panel of federal jedges.

Also confusing the matter is the fact that the Tyler three judge panel had jurisdiction over both the LRB plans for the State House and Senate (which it resolved on 11/28/2001) and the U.S. Congressional Districts (which the Tyler panel resolved on 11/14/2001). From the House Research Organization report, this description of the panel’s U.S. Congressional Districting process:

Tyler federal court panel issues a congressional redistricting plan (1151C). Panel begins with existing minority-majority districts, adds two new districts in high-growth areas, then uses as criteria historic district locations, emphasizing compactness and contiguity and following city and county boundaries where possible, and protection of incumbents holding major leadership posts, checking the final plan against statewide vote percentage for each party in recent congressional races. Panel determines that additional minority districts are not required by law.

So, to conclude, the Tyler three judge panel did two things: (1) Basically adopted Texas House and Texas Senate districts as approved by the Republican-controlled LRB; (2) Separately, the Tyler three judge panel (1 Republican and 2 Democrats) drew up the U.S. Congressional Districts–the ones that were in effect in 2002 and the ones DeLay wants changed. Republicans allege that the 1990 districts were gerrymandered in favor of Democrats, so that when the panel “use[d] as criteria historic district locations”, it was perpetuating an injustice against Republicans. The steps described in the post just before this one, “DeLay Redistricting”, are part of the Republicans’ effort to correct this perceived injustice.

I finally figured something out that will help you keep the plans straight: plans for the State House (“H”), State Senate (“S”), and U.S. Congress (“C”) have the letters “H”, “S”, and “C” appended (for example 1011H, 1065S or 1151C).

Sorry for the confusion, I will now return to my regularly scheduled infallibility.


UPDATE: There’s more interesting stuff from Rob Booth on Texas redistricting here.