The Texas redistricting mess, which with a Supreme Court ruling looked to be moving in the direction of Republicans, could bounce back. The SCOTUS only ruled on which interim maps to use while a lawsuit from minority groups against the maps worked out by the legislature made its way through the courts. The underlying court case has yet to be decided. But there are new indications that Texas attorneys will settle on this issue, in a big win for the minority groups.
The Texas state attorneys defending the state’s GOP-drawn redistricting plans from court challenges have reached out to settle litigation, according to sources in the state. The settlement would give minority groups and Democrats what they’ve been demanding from the start: more heavily minority, Democratic-leaning House seats.
The result would likely mean at least four more Texas Democrats in Congress as of next year, a good start on the 25 or so seats Democrats need to win to retake control of the House.
“They’re backed up against the wall and have to come to some agreement and it’ll be awfully favorable on our end,” said one of the plaintiffs in the case.
Another plaintiff agreed. “It’s clear they know they’re in a vulnerable position and that’s why they want to settle,” he said.
This could merely be humblebraggging on the part of the plaintiffs. But if it comes to pass, the maps will have substantially more opportunity for Latino districts, and the belief is that Democrats could capture those districts (though they lost at least a couple of them in 2010). A quick settlement would even sidestep the Supreme Court ruling, with the maps agreed to without another process of drawing from a three-judge panel.
This has a major impact on who will win the House of Representatives in November. Four votes, when 25 are needed for a Democratic takeover, represents quite a swing. What do Republicans get out of it? Largely an avoidance of embarrassment:
In exchange for a map that would give minorities and Democrats what they want, the agreement would allow Republicans to keep the state’s primary on April 3, saving the state money and making it more likely its presidential primary will be early enough to matter. Texas has already had to move its primary back once because of the ongoing court cases. They would also avoid having two federal courts label their plans intentionally discriminatory.
Sounds like a clean sweep, but we’ll have to see how it plays out.