Texas GOP wants to redistrict before the 2018 elections

They are concerned that unfavorable redistricting may be imposed on them in an upcoming July trial

By Matthew Rozsa

Published May 26, 2017 3:48PM (EDT)


At least one Texas Republican wants the party's leader, Gov. Greg Abbott, to take advantage of an upcoming special session to redraw their state's 36 congressional districts.

That doesn't seem likely.

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The concern seems to be that, because a panel of federal judges is meeting in July for a five-day trial on the state's current district boundaries, they may wind up facing less favorable political conditions in the impending 2018 midterm elections, according to a report by the Texas Tribune. Three judges in San Antonio ruled in March that the boundaries drawn up for federal congressional districts in 2011 were racially discriminatory, and in April they arrived at the same conclusion about state House districts. If the court that meets in July decides that the current state map is unconstitutional, they could impose redistricting that winds up reducing the Republicans' gerrymandered advantage in future elections.

On the other hand, using the special session to redraw the districts could help them take control of the situation.

As Republican Rep. Randy Weber told the Tribune, "I can’t speak for my whole delegation but I’ve already reached out to some of my friends back in the legislature…I said, ‘Give me a holler.' My thought is, if the legislature doesn’t [redraw the map], then the court is going to drop the map, which I think is way outside their constitutional purview."

Of course, there is no way of knowing that the five-panel judge will in fact order a redistricting, which could make any move from the legislature by Texas Republicans premature.

As Rep. Bill Flores put it to the Tribune, "One attorney will tell you one thing, another attorney will tell you something different. There’s more confusion than consensus."

Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer for Salon. He holds an MA in History from Rutgers University-Newark and is ABD in his PhD program in History at Lehigh University. His work has appeared in Mic, Quartz and MSNBC.

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Gerrymandering Gov. Greg Abbott Greg Abbott Partner Video Racism Republican Party Texas