Texas Republicans in control of the state legislature shifted congressional district boundaries enough in 2003 that 8 million people — including large blocks of Hispanics — were placed in new districts, represented by different U.S. House members, justices were told.
Kennedy, a centrist swing voter, focused his concerns on how the shift affected Hispanics in South Texas. “It seems to me that is an affront and an insult,” he said.
The Texas boundaries were changed after Republicans took control of both houses of the state Legislature. DeLay had helped GOP legislative candidates in 2002, and was a key player in getting the new map that benefited him and other Republican incumbents.
Since then, however, he has struggled from the fallout. He was charged in state court with money laundering in connection with fundraising for legislative candidates. He gave up his leadership post and is fighting the charges.
DeLay also was admonished by the House ethics committee for asking a federal agency to help track aircraft that flew several Democrats out of state as part of quorum-breaking walkouts during the bitter fight over maps.
Justices did not mention DeLay, and he was not in the crowded courtroom.Austin American Statesman, High Court Tackles Political Boundry Case
March 2, 2006
Supreme Court of Texas contact info
Computer redistricting. Anything else is Gerrymandering. Strangely enough, this is old news. What I want to know is, why didn’t the state act on the following two years ago?
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
TESTIMONY FOR NON-PARTISAN REDISTRICTING
Austin, Texas, July 2, 2003 — The Texas House of Representatives Committee on Redistricting heard testimony today from members of the Coalition for Non-partisan Redistricting, Robert Howard, Jon Roland, and Patrick Dixon.
A video clip of the testimony can be viewed online at http://www.house.state.tx.us/fx/av/committee78/30702p38.ram. To view it you will need a viewer such as RealPlayer from http://www.real.com. See also http://www.house.state.tx.us/committees/redistricting.php.
In their testimony, the witnesses rejected not just the proposed new redistricting map, but the map used in the last election as well, and asked the Legislature to adopt a new method of obtaining district maps that is impersonal and not subject to human tampering or political manipulation. Instead of debating and adopting particular maps, the act would provide the specifications for the computer program, called Target, to use in drawing the map, and whatever map the computer produced would be the official map to be used in the next election.
The witnesses explained that each time the computer program is run, it produces a different map. The process is random. But all of the maps will meet the specifications. If anyone doesn’t like the maps, they should advocate different specifications. But any such specifications would be explicit and subject to public debate and judicial scrutiny.
Roland suggested that if the Legislature is concerned about the computer producing anomalous maps, the proposal could be modified to have the computer generate, say, a dozen maps, and then have a certain number of “strikes”, as are used to exclude prospective jurors during jury selection, to be applied by various members of the Legislature to eliminate some maps. The final selection would then be made from among the remaining maps by random lot.
Roland emphasized that this controversy threatens the precious bipartisan collegiality that has prevailed in Texas for more than a century, which allows legislative proposals from all parties and factions to be considered on their merits. If we allow such devisive issues to shatter that tradition, the result may be that only proposals by the leaders of the dominant party will have any chance of being heard. The result would not favor good or efficient government.
The proposal is at http://www.constitution.org/reform/us/tx/redistrict/cnpr_proposal.htm.
The Texas Legislative Council site is http://www.tlc.state.tx.us/
For a demonstration of the computer software see
The reason why the Texas legislature didn’t go for computer redistricting is simple. They like to be able to pick the people they represent. This is true across the vast expanse of the United States and pretty much all over the world where voting is held to mean something. The people in power work to make sure that they stay in power; and the one certain way to do this is to control who votes for whom or even who votes at all. So, of course, non-partisan redistricting still isn’t a thing in Texas because it isn’t a thing that the people have stood up and made the legislature enact. That is how things get done in government.
The problem with letting the computers draw maps is that it’s hard to determine which neighborhoods and areas fit best together. Do you draw lines down waterways or do you draw them around river basins? Draw down the middle of roads or include both sides of a roadway? Which neighborhoods like to be seen as being associated with each other? It’s actually quite difficult to get a map that everyone can agree fairly represents them. Which is the problem at the heart of all redistricting efforts.
I think it’s fairly obvious that the legislature should not be allowed to draw the lines themselves. If they are allowed to do that they will draw or pick maps that favor themselves. A non-partisan redistricting committee that answers to the public directly, a committee that is guided by computer modeling as well, is probably the best solution to the gerrymandering problem. How to get Texas to enact that? Your guess is as good as mine.