Weekly Redistricting Update


Florida: State Legislature Cries “Uncle,” Gives Up On a Legislative District Map

Last week the Florida Legislature ended its second special redistricting session without a map for state senate districts. Senate leaders are throwing the issue back to the court, and have proposed that the court have a special master draw the map. This “proposal” reflects many senators’ disapproval of the court’s handling of the congressional map redraw, which invited parties to the litigation to propose maps instead of having a more neutral party redraw the lines. A court hearing is schedule for December 14th.


Virginia: Supreme Court Will Take Up Congressional Map Case

The saga of Virginia’s 3rd congressional district continues, and the Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case that it remanded earlier this year in light of its decision in Alabama Legislative Black Caucus et al. v. Alabama. In that case, the high court disagreed with a lower court’s analysis of whether the senate districts in the state’s redistricted map were unconstitutional racial gerrymanders. The court’s language in that opinion was very suspicious of the Alabama map and gave the lower court guidance on how it should “reconsider” the case on remand. The Virginia congressional district case was heard again by the federal panel that had initially invalidated the 3rd district, and it so again, this October.

The Supreme Court has now agreed to hear the Virginia lawsuit but it is not clear why the high panel wants a crack at this case since it seems that the similar facts of both cases would render the same result. That being said, there is much room for nuance here; the Alabama case was as much a case about judicial standing as it was about racial gerrymandering, and standing is also an issue in the Virginia case. Experts are still insisting that the Virginia’s 3rd should be invalidated by the court just as the lower court ruled, if it is to be consistent with the Alabama case.

Texas: San Antonio Court: “Interim” Maps Will be Used for the 2016 Election 

Texas will run its 2016 elections on maps that were originally drawn as temporary maps after a federal court in D.C. found the 2011 legislature’s maps violated the Voting Rights Act. The temporary maps were later adopted by the Texas state legislature despite claims that the interim maps were still not “completely free” of statutory / constitutional violations. In a decision last week, the federal district court overseeing the map quandary in San Antonio, relented and decided that the interim maps were a go for the upcoming 2016 elections; most likely a decision based on practical necessity more than substantive law.


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