Texas Update

The Dallas Morning News (free account required) reports that the Texas Supreme Court has refused to order the Texas Senate Democrats to end their boycott. Score one victory for the separation of powers. It seems like this was pretty clear cut because, absent issues of constitutionality, the Judicial Branch has no business interfering in Legislative Branch business. On the other hand, every Texas SC judge is a Republican, including stymied Circuit Court nominee Priscilla Owens, who is presumably not particularly happy with Democrats in general. (There was no published opinion, and I can’t find any information on which if any court members were in favor of issuing an order forcing the Democrats to return).

Democrats also filed a lawsuit, this one in Federal court:

In their lawsuit against the state, Perry and Dewhurst, the Democrats claimed that GOP leaders violated the federal Voting Rights Act by dropping a traditional rule that requires two-thirds of the Senate to agree to debate a bill.

Democrats argue that the two-thirds rule is vital in protecting the representation of political and racial minority groups in the Senate. Without the rule, voting “practices and procedures” in Texas are changed, Democrats’ attorneys say…

“This single issue is a violation of the Voting Rights Act, silencing the voices of every minority member of the Texas Senate and forcing a redistricting bill through the Legislature against the interests of minority voters, against the will of every minority member of the Senate and those senators who represent minority districts,” said state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, chairwoman of the Senate Democratic Caucus.

It probably is true that eliminating the 2/3 rule would reduce the power of minorities in the legislature. Yet while the Democrats might have a slight chance in a District Court in Laredo, I doubt that a victory would survive on appeal in the conservative 5th Circuit. Nor is the Ashcroft Justice Department particularly likely to support a lawsuit based on the Voting Rights Act.