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Kingmaker or Clown? Texas Redistricting Turmoil Continues

By Robyn Hagan Cain on February 17, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals judge Jerry Smith indicated yesterday that the Texas primary election scheduled for April 3 will likely be delayed because the Texas redistricting map conflict has not been resolved, reports The New York Times. While a new date has not been set, the court asked the Democratic and Republican parties to propose new candidate filing periods for a May 29 primary.

As the primary date continues to move, Texas could either become a kingmaker, or completely irrelevant in the Republican nominating process.

The Texas primary was originally scheduled for Super Tuesday, March 6, 2012, when the Texas delegate total would have affected the Republican nomination. If the Republican contest is wrapped up by May, then the Texas Republican primary will not matter, reports the Houston Chronicle. If, however, the nominating contest lasts as long as the 2008 Democratic nomination battle, the late primary could allow Texans to determine who will face President Obama at the polls in November.

Texas won four new congressional seats after the 2010 Census. As redistricting typically falls within the legislature's purview, the Republican-controlled Texas legislature proposed a redistricting map that favored Republicans. (We're observing, not criticizing. Democrats do the same thing when they are in power.)

Under the Voting Rights Act, Texas redistricting maps must be approved by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals to ensure that proposed districts won't disenfranchise minority voters. Last year, the Lone Star State encountered an unexpected hurdle in the map-approval process: the Department of Justice (DOJ), which is under Democratic control, challenged the Texas redistricting map, which led three federal judges in San Antonio to create interim redistricting maps for the 2012 election. Republicans led a challenge to the interim maps all the way to the Supreme Court.

In January, the Supreme Court sent the case, Perry v. Perez, back to a San Antonio federal court, with instructions that the district court must give greater deference to the state legislature's redistricting plan for the state. The federal panel has asked minority groups and the state to agree on a set of proposed maps. So far, the groups have only been able to agree on one of the three maps, the proposed State Senate map, reports the Times.

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