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Sunday, August 31, 2003

Let's compromise on the basis of 'you lose, we win'

From an editorial in today's Houston Chronicle entitled "Ample Exits:   Plenty of ways to end state's redistricting standoff":

The wayward senators say they will return to Texas if Dewhurst agrees to reinstate the Senate's traditional two-thirds rule, which for decades has applied to the Senate's most important legislation....

So far, litigation has solved nothing, but Gov. Perry could end the war single-handedly by promising not to add redistricting to the next special session. If Perry and U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay really believe redistricting would benefit the citizens of Texas, however, the governor should have the next special session consider legislation to create a nonpartisan commission to redraw congressional district lines after the 2010 U.S. Census. The primary House sponsor is state Rep. Scott Hochberg, D-Houston. State Sen. Jeff Wentworth, R-San Antonio, filed similar legislation in the Senate. 

This makes my teeth hurt.  If I'm ever in a room together with a journalist who says Lt. Gov. Dewhurst has abolished or abandoned or changed a Senate rule in the redistricting fight, said journalist is likely going to show up at the nearest emergency room suffering from the adult equivalent of "shaken baby syndrome."  It's ... a ... LIE!

And the Chronicle's proposed compromise amounts to nothing more than "Dems win, Republicans lose."

As I've said several times before, I'm in favor of taking redistricting out of the hands of the Legislature and making it nonpartisan.  I don't know enough about Rep. Hochberg's or Sen. Wentworth's specific proposals to comment on either.

But I'm at a loss to understand how, on the one hand, the Chronicle can recognize that all gerrymandering is ugly, and on the other hand it suggests that we spend the next seven years and the next four Congressional elections under what's essentially a set of Congressional boundaries gerrymandered to be pro-Democrat based on the 1990 Census.

[sarcasm on] Uh-huh!  Right!  Oh yes, that's a sound basis for compromise!  Let's let the Dems retain a gerrymandered majority in the Texas delegation to the US House for the rest of this decade.  Let's ignore the 2002 election results, and let's ignore the fact that the Legislature — not the federal courts — are assigned the task of redistricting by the US Constitution as interpreted by the US Supreme Court.  By 2011, there will probably be a renewed appetite among Democratic legislators for another extended stay in New Mexico. [/sarcasm off]

Litigation actually is about to solve something.  When the Truant Texas Dems™ get poured out by the three-judge panel just convened in Barrientos v. Texas, their choices for how to proceed will be cut to exactly two:

  • Come home for a third special session with a majority-rule vote that they will lose; or

  • Stay outside the boundaries of the State of Texas until their legislative terms expire after the 2004 elections — and hope they can keep solidarity among at least eleven Democratic senators for this entire long exile. 

We're approaching the end-game either way, and the time for them to make a real compromise is fast slipping away from them.

Posted by Beldar at 03:51 PM in Texas Redistricting | Permalink


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