Texas AG supports new redistricting maps

John O'Brien Feb. 6, 2012, 1:33pm


AUSTIN, Texas (Legal Newsline) - Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott is pleased with the latest proposed redistricting maps.

Abbott said Monday the new maps will minimize changes to the redistricting plan crafted by the state Legislature. Disputes over redistricting have gone on for months, and a challenge to a plan created by three federal judges is currently before the U.S. Supreme Court.

The proposed maps create an interim plan for Congressional districts for the April 3 primary elections. Abbott said the court should finalize them in time for the elections.

"The Texas Attorney General's Office has worked with a wide range of interest groups to incorporate reasonable requests from all parties to the extent possible without compromising the will of the Texas Legislature," Abbott said.

"Even though these proposed interim maps aren't fully supported by all interest groups, modifications have been incorporated based on requests made by all parties."

Abbott said the interim maps are the result of an agreement between the State and the Texas Latino Redistricting Task Force and are supported by U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar.

Monday was the deadline created by the San Antonio federal court to come to an agreement on the maps if the State wished to hold primary elections April 3.

The primary already has been postponed from March to April because of the ongoing legal battle over redistricting.

At issue is which boundaries the state will use -- maps drawn last summer by the state's Legislature, interim maps substituted by the federal court, or a variation of the two.

According to the 2010 U.S. Census, Texas showed a gain of more than 4 million people, mostly Latinos and African-Americans. The population growth means Texas will add four more seats in the U.S. House of Representatives next year -- from 32 to 36 seats in the 435-member body.

Opponents of the map drawn by the state Legislature argued the new boundaries dilute the voting power of minorities.

Several minority groups filed a lawsuit, and the federal court in San Antonio created another map it claimed more fairly represented the new minority populations.

In November, the State challenged the court-drawn maps and asked the U.S. Supreme Court to hear their arguments.

In January, the nation's highest court ruled that the federal court went too far in coming up with its own redistricting plan.

The Court vacated the orders implementing the maps and remanded the cases, saying it was unclear whether the federal court followed the "appropriate standards" in drawing the maps.

From Legal Newsline: Reach John O'Brien by e-mail at jobrienwv@gmail.com.

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