Sunday, September 07, 2003
Ahoy matey! Hand over that Redistricting Treasure Map, or I'll have ye walkin' tha plank!
I'm glad that the three-judge panel convened for the Barrientos v. Texas litigation has ordered a prompt hearing for September 11th, although I wish they'd picked a different date. In fact, I wish the panel had picked September 19th, which as we all know is Talk Like a Pirate Day:
THE CLERK: Oyez, oyez, oyez! The United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Laredo Division, is now in session, the Honorable Patrick E. Higginbotham, United States Circuit Judge, presiding, with the Honorable George P. Kazen, Chief Judge of the United States District Court, and the Honorable Lee H. Rosenthal, United States District Judge, also sitting! God save the United States and this Honorable Court!
JUDGE HIGGINBOTHAM: Be seated please. As our sole matter on this afternoon's docket, we have a hearing on all pending motions in Gonzalo Barrientos et alia versus The State of Texas et alia, Number L-03-CV-113. Counsel will please enter your appearances on the record.
MR. HICKS: Arrrrrr! Cap'n Renea Hicks here, m'lords an' m'lady, fer tha Demmercraddick Sennadors!
MR. CRUZ: Solicitor-Gen'ral Ted Cruz at yer service, m'lords an' m'lady, fer tha Kingdo— errrrrr, fer tha State o' Texas, an' fer Guvner Perry, an' Leftenant-Guvner Dewhurst.
JUDGE HIGGINBOTHAM: Very well, counsel. We'll first hear from Mr. Cruz on behalf of the Crown. Errr, the State. Whatever. Mr. Cruz?
MR. CRUZ: Aye-aye, m'lord! May it please the Court, the State o' Tex—
MR. HICKS: Belay that order! Avast, m'lords, beggin' yer pardon, m'lady, but ye ert ta hear me arguments first! Tha Sennadors' motion fer a temp'rary restrain' order ert ta take precedence!
JUDGE HIGGINBOTHAM: I see. Mr. Cruz, what do you say to that. Do you have a preference as to whether to speak first or second?
MR. CRUZ: Aye, m'lord, 'tis nonsense fer yer worthies to spend yer time on tha motion fer a temp'rary restrain' order because once yer worthies have granted the State's motion to dismiss, that'll send yon motion fer temp'rary orders to the bottom o' Davy Jones' locker wif tha rest o' tha Sennadors' case.
[Brief conference off-the-record among the Judges]
JUDGE HIGGINBOTHAM: Very well, Mr. Cruz, we agree. Please proceed with argument on the State's motion to dismiss.
MR. CRUZ: Har-har! Aye-aye, m'lord! The nub o' this matter, m'lords an' m'lady, is whut Leftenant-Guvner Dewhurst did when tha Good Ship Legislature hoisted anchor and set sail fer its Second Speshul Sesshun.
Leftenant-Guvner Dewhurst announced to all the swabbies aboard that there'd be no more o' this molley-coddlin' an' fussin', but instead a steady course fer pure democracy, steady as she goes. He announced that on this voyage, when he summon'd all hands on deck an' called fer a vote, he'd count hands — or hooks, as the case may be — and the side wif tha most will win.
But tha Demmercraddick Sennadors, m'lords an' m'lady, began ta mutterin' about a mutiny! They asked, "Whut about tha tradishun that two-thirds o' all hands aboard must agree first afore takin' any vote?"
But tha Leftenant-Guvener answered 'em back sharply: "Nay, ye scurvy dogs!" he said, "tha last voyage we took ye abused that tradishun an' kept us from ever gettin' outta port!" Whereupon tha Demmercraddick Sennadors abandoned ship and skedaddled to the Land o' Enchantment, where they've been rousin' tha rabble and keepin' the ale-houses filled to the brims wif pieces o' eight. An' instead o' sailin' on tha Good Ship Legislature as intended, they've brought this scurvy lawsuit claimin' that tha Leftenant-Guvner is disenfranchisin' them o' their votes!
Why, nuffin' could be further from the troof, m'lords an' m'lady! Leftenant-Guvner Dewhurst will gladly count their hands and hooks, if'n they'll only come back aboard when tha Guvner calls another muster! M'lords, m'lady, the Crown— errr, the State submits that the Demmercraddick Sennadors ert ta be clapped in irons and returned to their stations aboard ship, an' their lawsuit sent into tha vasty deep.
JUDGE HIGGINBOTHAM: Very well. Mr. Hicks, we'll hear from you now.
MR. HICKS: May it please yer lordships an' yer ladyship, I've ne'er heard such a load o' bilge an' hogwarsh in me whole seafarin'—
JUDGE ROSENTHAL: Excuse me, Mr. Hicks, but ... is that a parrot on your shoulder?
THE PARROT: Stand and fight! Stand and fight! Bwaaawk!
MR. HICKS: Pay no attenshun to him, m'lady, he's been followin' me since tha Battle o' tha Caribbean three years ago this November. Blimey! Rum bird ...
JUDGE ROSENTHAL: Very well, Mr. Hicks, proceed.
MR. HICKS: Yo ho ho! Yer lordships, this is just tha first shot across tha bow o' democracy by Fleet Admiral Bush an' Commodore DeLay an' their whole evil navy, and a more rummy lot ye ne'er have seen! Why, tha Demmercraddick Sennadors had no choice but ta slip off ta tha Land o' Enchantment! If'n they'd stayed aboard ship after Leftenant-Guvner Dewhurst changed tha rules, then he wuz gonna keelhaul an' flog 'em! In fact, that scallywag wuz about to hornswaggle all tha landlubbers o' Texas into—
JUDGE KAZAN: Mr. Hicks, excuse me a moment, but let me see if I understand what you're asking this Court to do. You want us to order Leften— errrrr, Lieutenant-Governor Dewhurst to see that a phony piece of legislation — a so-called "blocker bill" that nobody in the Senate actually supports — is the first bill referred to and then reported out of any Senate Committee, so that it can be placed atop the Senate Calendar?
JUDGE ROSENTHAL: And that's so that under the rules as written, which Lieutenant-Governor Dewhurst is still enforcing as written, no other legislation — and especially no redistricting bill — can then even be considered, unless your pirates — errrrr, your clients, whose party has lost their majority in the Texas Senate, go along with it?
JUDGE HIGGINBOTHAM: So that what you're asking us to do is to issue orders that require the state's executive officers to continue a charade — an artificial manipulation of the Senate rules as they're actually written — in order to permit a legislative minority to continue to prevent the majority from ever being able to hold a Senate vote?
THE PARROT: Let every vote count! Bwaaaawk! Stand and fight! Stand and fight!
[The Parrot explodes in a cloud of feathers and smoke. Mr. Hicks' co-counsel from Washington, Mr. Hebert, tucks his flintlock pistol back into his belt and resumes his seat.]
MR. HICKS: Well, m'lord, ummm ... Ya see, m'lord, if'n Leftenant-Guvner Dewhurst weren't changin' tha rules mid-voyage, we—
JUDGE ROSENTHAL: That's twice you've said that now, Mr. Hicks. Would you be good enough to direct the Court by number to the rule that you say the Republicans have changed?
MR. HICKS: Arrrrrrr! Blast me own scurvy eyes, I saw it here somewheres this mornin' around seven bells. Umm ... Errrrr ... M'lords, m'lady, can ye not see that poor, poor Repursen'tive Frost will see his Treasure Map from 1991 destroyed if'n ye permit tha majority to prevail in the Texas Senate? Can ye not shed a tender tear fer Repursen'tive Frost and his brudders?
JUDGE HIGGINBOTHAM: I believe we've heard enough. Thank you counsel, we'll issue a decision shortly.
THE CLERK: All rise! Court is now adjourned! Gangway, me hearties!
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