June 28, 2006

The Texas Redistricting Case Opinons Are Out!

Along with most of the other remaining decisions from this term at the Supreme Court (the decision in Hamdan comes out tomorrow, and Stevens appears sure to be writing it!) - a quick summary of the results can be found here (SCOTUSBlog of course).

I've only had a chance to read the syllabus, but it looks like a sensible ruling to me (though given, yet again, the large number of opinions and the splintered nature of the decision I guess maybe "ruling" isn't the best word to use). Justice Kennedy wrote the lead opinion of course. Among the things the Court did and didn't do: they still haven't decided if they can rule on partisan gerrymandering claims or not (or the circumstances that would require them to do so); they struck down District 23 (Henry Bonilla's district) in light of egregious moves by the state of Texas to obviously limit the voting rights of Hispanics (the fix to that that Texas will likely have to pursue will likely also affect District 25 - Lloyd Doggett's district); they are ok with the Dallas area redistricting (the African-American population there wasn't large enough to affect the outcome of the district whose alteration they were challenging - the one that used to elect Martin Frost - a key matter given the text of the section that the claim was being brought under); and they threw out the claims against mid-decade redistricting (one multiple grounds) - probably the most predictable part of the decision.

UPDATE: Confused by the opinion, at least in terms of who voted for what? I'm not at all surprised. Here's a helpful post counting the voting on the various parts of it - a number of parts of it are 5-4, with Kennedy always in the majority, but not always with the same group of justices behind him. It appears that appeals against partisan gerrymandering are dead until Kennedy figures out some clear way to deal with the problem - and, not surprisingly, he hasn't figured that out yet. But the more I look at this (though I haven't looked at it much yet) Part III is where the real news is in these rulings (at least in terms of who this tells us about future election-law rulings from the Roberts Court). That's the section where by a 5-4 vote (Kennedy and the supposed "liberals") District 23 was struck down. That it appears that there were four justices (including to the 2 newest/3 youngest) who opposed that move - well, my initial reaction is to say that Alito replacing O'Connor is going to be EXTREMELY bad news to racial minorities pressing claims under the Voting Rights Act. But like I said, I've still got to read this more thoroughly to be sure of the scope of the bad news for such people.

UPDATE II: OK, just what the hell is up with this decision and District 25? If you know, tell me. What am I talking about? See the last few paragraphs in Michael Kang's analysis and Rick Pildes on this "fascinating error".

Posted by armand at June 28, 2006 11:46 AM | TrackBack | Posted to Law and the Courts

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