The U.S. Supreme Court on Dec. 9 granted the State of Texas’s request by Attorney General Greg Abbott for a stay of the interim redistricting plans levied by a federal district court for the Texas Senate, Texas House of Representatives and U.S. House of Representatives.
The Court’s decision means that elections will not take place for the time being using the district court’s interim redistricting plans pending a more thorough review by the High Court.
“The Supreme Court’s action in staying the recently drawn maps issued by the three-judge federal district court panel in San Antonio, is a clear indication that the concerns we raised last week concerning the panel’s actions, have merit,” stated Republican Party of Texas Chairman Steve Munisteri in a statement immediately after the decision was announced by the Supreme Court.
DISREGARD THE WILL OF THE TEXAS LEGISLATURE
The three judge panel district court’s interim redistricting plans wholly disregard the will of the Texas Legislature despite the fact that no court has found that the maps drawn by the Legislature violate any law.
“The Texas Attorney General’s Office is committed to protecting the integrity of Texas’ elections by ensuring they are conducted based on legally constructed redistricting maps, and the Supreme Court’s decision today is an important step in that direction,” Attorney General Abbott said. “We look forward to presenting oral argument to the Supreme Court on January 9, 2012.”
“We understand the need for speed for Texas voters as well as those who wish to run for office, and will work to resolve this matter as quickly as possible,” Abbott said.
FEDERAL JUDGE JERRY SMITH SAID PANEL IMPOSED EXTREME SCHEME
Because Federal Judge of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals Jerry Smith is the only appellate judge to consider the Texas Legislature’s plan, Abbott is appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court and asking for a stay of the two trial judges (Judge Smith dissented from the other two judges) proposed maps.
Judge Jerry Smith offered an analysis indicating the temporary plan of the trial judges was a blatant retreat from the law.
Judge Smith states the two judge’s opinions “produced a runaway plan that imposes an extreme redistricting scheme for the Texas House of Representatives, untethered to the applicable caselaw” and “is grave error at the preliminary, interim stage of the redistricting process.”
Judge Smith said that the temporary “plan is far reaching and extreme. It expands the role of a three-judge interim court well beyond what is legal, practical, or fair.”
JUDGE SMITH: RADICAL ALTERATIONS
Judge smith said this is “not the time for this court to impose the radical alterations in the Texas political landscape that the majority has now mandated.”
The other two trial judges were acting as “though sitting as a mini-legislature, engraft(ing)s its policy preferences statewide despite the fact that no such extreme modifications are required by the case law or by the facts that are before this court at this early stage before preclearance and remedial hearings.”
REPUBLICANS CHARGE PANEL EXCEEDED AUTHORITY
Munisteri said it was his party’s “position that the majority of the district court panel exceeded their judicial authority and attempted to usurp the rightful duties of the Texas State Legislature.”
“It has also been our position that the maps approved by the Legislature did comply with the Voting Rights’ Act and did protect the interests of minority voters, particularly the interests of Hispanic voters in Texas,” Munisteri continued. “I applaud Attorney General Greg Abbott and his legal team for their quick action in appealing this matter to the U.S. Supreme Court and congratulate them for winning the first round before that court in obtaining a stay on the panel’s maps.”
“We are hopeful that the Attorney General and his team will be able to demonstrate to the Court the necessity of throwing out the panel’s maps,”Munisteri commented.
“We hope the Court will either restore the original district lines of the Legislature, or at the very least, make revisions to the district court panel’s maps which are more in tune with the legislative intent,” Munisteri added.