AUSTIN (KXAN) — A federal lawsuit launched ahead of the battle over redistricting in Texas is an early political “Hail Mary,” according to a communication and political science professor.
“Rather than hoping the federal courts intervene, Texas Democrats need to hope that the U.S. Department of Justice, when they certify the maps, intervene,” Dr. Richard Pineda of the University of Texas at El Paso told KXAN on Tuesday.
As KXAN has reported, Texas will gain two congressional seats following the 2020 U.S. Census, and redistricting is set to take center stage when next week’s second special session convenes at the state capitol.
According to federal court records, the lawsuit was filed Sept. 1 by Democratic Austin State Sen. Sarah Eckhardt, San Antonio-area State Sen. Roland Gutierrez and the group Tejano Democrats.
“It is highly probable that redistricting in this session will be like redistricting in the past: focused on preserving incumbency and focused on preserving political power,” Eckhardt told KXAN.
The suit claims per the Constitution, the legislature is only allowed to take up redistricting in the first regular session following the census, not during a special session.
But Republican State Rep. James White of Woodville said the framers of the Constitution specifically wanted politically-charged state legislatures to be the ones to handle the drawing of congressional districts.
“To the folks that are talking about that, this is just Republicans talking about maintaining Republican control, it’s not about the politicians or the political class, it’s about the voters,” White said Tuesday.
The third special session of the 87th Texas Legislature begins next Monday.
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