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   Redistricting Newswire                                 
 
       
 
Court:Texas Interim Maps Won't Be Changed before November Elections

August 31, 2012
- On the heels of a Washington D.C. Court's decision to deny preclearance for Texas' redistricting maps, the San Antonio federal court overseeing challenges to those same maps has decided that interim maps in place for this November's elections will not be changed in light of the preclearance ruling.

Several plaintiffs in the litigation had requested changes to those parts of the maps that the D.C. court found discriminatory to minorities, but the court and at least one plaintiff cited logistical concerns with elections being so close. The Texas Attorney General has appealed the preclearance ruling to the Supreme Court.

San Antonio Express, Bloomberg, Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Read the preclearance opinion
New Challenge to Court-Approved Florida Senate Map is Filed

September 6, 2012
- On Wednesday several voter rights groups filed a complaint in Florida circuit court alleging that the current senate district map violates the state's fair districts amendments. Common Cause, the League of Women Voters, the National Council of La Raza, and several individuals insist the map was drawn to intentionally favor Republicans despite the Florida Supreme Court's approval of the map.

The court had previously invalidated an initial senate map enacted by the legislature. The current map was revised by the legislature and approved by the court earlier this year. The groups insist that if the court gives the map a closer review, it will find that the revisions the legislature made continue to violate state law.
Orlando Sentinel, TampaBay.com, Florida Current.
Court:Texas Interim Maps Won't Be Changed before November Elections

August 31, 2012
- On the heels of a Washington D.C. Court's decision to deny preclearance for Texas' redistricting maps, the San Antonio federal court overseeing challenges to those same maps has decided that interim maps in place for this November's elections will not be changed in light of the preclearance ruling.

Several plaintiffs in the litigation had requested changes to those parts of the maps that the D.C. court found discriminatory to minorities, but the court and at least one plaintiff cited logistical concerns with elections being so close. The Texas Attorney General has appealed the preclearance ruling to the Supreme Court.

San Antonio Express, Bloomberg, Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Read the preclearance opinion 
D.C. Federal Court Reaches Decision in Texas Redistricting Case

August 28, 2012 - The much awaited decision on preclearance for Texas' redistricting maps was released Tuesday. Its a crucial case for voting rights involving the state's congressional and state legislative maps. This decision will affect the ongoing litigation in San Antonio, were a federal panel presides over several plaintiffs that have lodged various challenges against the maps.

The majority opinion denied preclearance for Texas' maps under section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, essentially finding that the maps "retrogress" minority voting strength when compared to the previous set of maps.

Read the Opinion
SCOTUSblog
Fort Worth Star-Telegram:TX Voting Cases Won't Break New Ground at Supreme Ct.
Constitutional Law Prof. Blog: Western District of Texas Keeps Court-Drawn Maps in Place for Election
Off the Kuff: Federal Court Denies Preclearance on All Redistricting Maps
 
   
  Ohio Group Sues Over Redistricting Reform Ballot Language 

August 27, 2012 -  The group behind the effort in Ohio to establish a citizen redistricting commission has filed suit in state court over the ballot question language approved for upcoming elections.

The Ohio Ballot Board, which approved the ballot language, rejected Voters First Ohio's recommended language in favor of language crafted by the board. Voters First is challenging the board's omission of key information about the proposed law; the laws' creation of a citizen commission and the requirement that districts be competitive.   

Voters First press release
Cleveland.com 
   
  Alaska Files Challenge to Voting Rights Act Provisions

August 22, 2012
-  The Alaska Attorney General's Office has filed a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the Voting Rights Act's provisions requiring it to obtain approval of voting / election changes.

The state joins several others obligated under the Act's preclearance provisions who have filed challenges to the continuing authority of the federal government to pre-approve state election practices.

Chicago Tribune, Wash. Post, ABC News, KTAR.   
   
  Alabama Lawmakers File Lawsuit Against New State Legislative Districts
August 16, 2012
-  The Alabama Legislature's Black Caucus filed a federal lawsuit last Friday challenging the Republican controlled legislature's newly enacted state legislative districts. The group charges that the map dilutes minority voting strength by packing black voters into as few districts as possible.

The suit also claims that the districts cross too many county lines and that the 1% maximum population deviation between districts was too strict; a departure from the previous 5% deviation policy. The Alabama Attorney General recently filed suit in federal court in Washington DC for preclearance of the districts.


 The Republic, Birmingham NewsMontgomery Advertiser, Gadsen Times. 
   
   Maryland Congressional Map Referendum Push Challenged in Court
July 31, 2012
- Last week the Maryland Democratic party filed a lawsuit challenging a sucessful referendum petition to put the state's new congressional map on the November ballot. Earlier in the month, petition organizers, led by Republicans turned in the required amount of signatures to put the congressional map on the ballot, but Democrats contend that the online petition process its organizers used to collect signatures violates state law. The lawsuit claims that the State Board of Elections incorrectly validated at least 5000 signatures, enough to disqualify the petition effort if the court agrees. 
MarylandReporter, Wash Post, Washington Times
   
  Pennsylvania's Second Try at State Legislative Map gets Court Challenges

July 10, 2012
- Pennsylvania's legislative district map will go to court for a second time since the state's reapportionment commission set out to redistrict its political boundaries. 

Last January, the state supreme court rejected the commission's first map for the first time in Pennsylvania history on the basis that it split too many counties. Several of the parties suing over the revised map, which was unveiled in April - make the same argument regarding county line splits. Plaintiffs challenging the map include a group called Latino Justice, a group of commissioners and voters from Montgomery County in Souteast Pa. and several other state officials.  
Times-HeraldPoliticsPA, Phillyburbs.com.   
   
  Maryland Congressional Map Foes Turn in Final Signatures for Referendum Push

July 2, 2012
- On Saturday evening opponents of Maryland's congressional redistricting map turned in the final batch of signatures, hoping to qualify the map for referendum later this year. The Republican led group turned in a total of 63,030 signatures - 7, 294 more than the required 55, 736.
The number of excess signatures is just barely over the 10% of signatures that election officials historically disqualify under the rules.

Petition organizers claim the congressional map, drawn by the governor and approved by legislature last October, is a partisan gerrymander. A U.S. district court found that the districts were not an unlawful gerrymander in December of last year. 
Baltimore Sun, Washington Post, WBAL Radio,  
 
UPI.      
   
  Alaska Case Moot after Federal Preclearance of Legislative Map

June 28, 2012
- Late Wednesday a federal court in Juneau dismissed a case seeking an injunction on Alaska's election preparations after the U.S. Justice Department issued preclearance for the state's temporary map of legislative districts.  The lawsuit had sought to stop election preparations until the districts received preclearance from the Justice Department. Alaska's Attorney General had challenged the constitutionality of the preclearance requirement as part of the state's defense against the lawsuit.

While the grant of preclearance moots the case, Alaska must still develop a final set of legislative districts. The Alaska Redistricting Board, which is responsible for redistricting advised it is looking to the state Supreme Court for guidance on how to accomplish that after twice producing maps ultimately rejected by that court. Both the temporary map and final map are still subject to litigation under section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.
Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Anchorage Daily News, Alaska Dispatch, Juneau Empire.  
   
  3 Florida Justices Sued Over Behavior at Redistricting Trial

June 27, 2012 - Three of the Florida Supreme Court Justices who heard the state's redistricting litigation earlier in the year are being sued by two men who claim the three halted the trial temporarily to file paperwork for an upcoming merit retention election. The men claim that this incurred legal costs on the litigants who had to pay their legal counsel for the downtime. They also claim the justices illegally used state employees to notarize and process their paperwork for their election campaign.  

State law generally prohibits state workers from engaging in campaign activity during working hours, but the justices labeled the suit frivolous, calling their actions common practice for any justice. 
Miami Herald, TambaBay.com
 
   
  Alaska Attorney General Challenges Voting Rights Act Preclearance Requirements

June 26, 2012
- Last week, Alaska Attorney General Michael Geraghty challenged the constitutionality of the Voting Rights Act's preclearance requirements under section 5 of the Act. The challenge was in response to a lawsuit filed in federal court seeking to halt the state's election prep activities until the Justice Department grants preclearance to a newly approved legislative district map. Geraghty joins his counterparts in Arizona and Texas who recently raised the consititutionality issue in a federal case.

The map has been the subject of substantial litigation in state courts with the state's highest court rejecting two maps due to the priority its linedrawers gave to federal law over state law. The Attorney General's
press release stipulates that while it is not challenging other provisions of the Voting Rights Act, the preclearance requirements are overly burdensome on the state. The states primaries are scheduled in August. The Justice Department is currently reviewing the legislative map. Oral arguments in the case are scheduled this Thursday afternoon.  
Alaska Dispatch, Alaska Public Radio, KTUU, The Republic.
  
   
   
  U.S. Supreme Court Upholds Maryland's Prisoner Reallocation Law

June 26 2012 -
The U.S. Supreme Court upheld Maryland's prisoner reallocation law which counted inmated at their home address for purposes of redistricting. Specifically, plaintiffs had challenged the states' 2012 congressional district map, which had been drawn with adjustments to the 2010 census data based on survey of the state's prisoners. Maryland is one of four states with a prisoner reallocation statute. The remaining three are California, Delaware, and New York.  Washington Times, Baltimore Sun, Sacramento Bee  
   
  Recent Preclearance Notices to Local Jurisdictions

June 21, 2012
- The Justice Department must preclear redistricting activity from thousands of local and municipal entities each decade. Right now is the peak period for preclearance submissions from local councils, commissions, school boards and the like. Here is a sampling of jurisdictions receiving preclearance from the Justice Department in recent weeks:  

 
Douglas County, Georgia  -  Chatham County, Georgia - 
 
Fayette County, Georgia   -   Harris County, Texas 
  
   
 
New Hampshire Supreme Court Rejects Challenge to State House Districts from Cities and Towns

June 19, 2012
- The New Hampshire Supreme Court upheld the state's newly enacted state House districts against challenges by several of the state's cities and towns. The redrawn map of state legislative districts was vetoed by New Hampshire's governor earlier this year but was overridden by the state legislature. 

The towns of Concord, Manchester and others had argued that the legislature did not abide by a 2006 state constitutional amendment requiring towns of a certain size to receive their own representative. The court agreed with the legislature, which determined that strict compliance with the amendment would require violating the federal equal population mandate by creating districts that deviate from the ideal population size by 10%.
Boston.com, Nashua Telegraph, Concord Monitor, Union Leader  
   
  New Alaska Redistricting Plan Draws Federal Lawsuit

June 12, 2012- Four Alaska natives have filed a lawsuit seeking to stop state election officials from preparing for elections using a new state legislative map. The new map had been approved several weeks ago by the State Supreme Court after it rejected previous ones.

The plaintiffs in this newly filed lawsuit allege that the state cannot proceed under the new map until it has been precleared by the Justice Dept.

The Alaska Redistricting Board did release a
report by its voting rights expert, Dr. Lisa Handley, which concluded that the new map would likely be precleared. The Justice Dept. has until July 25 to make a decision on preclearance assuming it does not require an extension. Oral arguments are scheduled for later this week in the U.S. District Court in Anchorage.
JuneauEmpire.com, Alaska Public Radio, Alaska Dispatch
  
   
 

Kansas Finalizes Redistricting Maps Courtesy of a Federal Court
June 12, 2012 - On Thursday, a federal judge panel issued a 200 page opinion and order redrawing Kansas’ state legislative and congressional districts. The new maps come after lawmakers failed to agree on new boundaries. The maps drastically change the state’s electoral landscape, creating 5 open seats in the state senate and 25 in the house. The opinion scolds lawmakers for not agreeing to maps themselves. Primaries are scheduled for August.
Kansas City Star, McPherson Sentinel, Kansas.com.

 
   
  CA Redistricting Commission to Shutdown Operations as Election Looms

June 6, 2012 - The California Redistricting Commission is set to cease operations this month as its operating funds have been depleted. State lawmakers have refused to give the commission more funding and several state agencies declined to support a scaled-down operation.

This comes as voters in the state undergo their first election under the commission's new redistricting maps. The new districts drawn by the commission and a new top-two primary system have been producing dramatic results.

Redistricting Commission coverage: 
Executive Director's June 5 letter to commissioners, KCET,Central Valley Business Times.

Election coverage:
Wash. Post, National Journal, Sacramento Bee, Wash. Post, Chicago Tribune
 
   
  May 16, 2012- Alaska's high court has ordered the redistricting board's revised legislative map adopted after a previous one was invalidated by the court. The revised map was also overturned by a lower court on April 20, but will be used as an interim map for the state's upcoming election.

After a state superior court judge overturned the board's second map attempt the board appealed to the Supreme Court to use its original map. However, the court preferred the revised map as an interim one but did 
order that districts in the Southeastern portion of the state be modified for compliance with the state constitution, making it clear that it does not believe Native American influence districts in that area are required under the Voting Rights Act.  Fairbanks Daily News Miner, The Republic, Juneau Empire,  
   
  Alabama Lawmakers Unveil New State Legislative Districts  
May 10, 2012 -
The Alabama legislature's Joint Permanent Legislative Committee on Reapportionment released a new proposed map of state house and senate districts on Wednesday in preparation for a special legislative session later this month. The map creates a new majority-minority house district in the Madison County area.  Lawmakers will have one week to review the map and will be able to offer changes during the special session.
News Courier, Gadsen Times, Tuscaloosanews.com, AL.com.    
   
  Arkansas State Officials Testify at Trial on Legislative Districts
May 10, 2012 - In a lawsuit filed by an African-American state senator alleging intentional discrimination and minority vote dilution, a federal panel of judges heard testimony Wednesday from members of the state's three member Apportionment Board. Panel members, which consists of the Governor, Secretary of State and Attorney General, each testified about the events surrounding the Board's work. The Attorney General denied that race was a dominant factor in the drawing of any district. Closing arguments are expected Thursday.  The Courier News, THV-11, Arkansas Matters.
  
   
  May 2, 2012 - Two more lawsuits have been filed against New Hampshire's redrawn state house districts for a total of four. Three of the plaintiffs are cities who claim that the plan does not allocate the proper number of state representatives to their jurisdictions as required under the states' constitution. The objecting cities are Concord, Gilford, and Manchester. A suit was also filed by nine Republican House members. Read coverage: Boston Herald, Union Leader.        
  May 1, 2012 - The Department of Justice precleared Florida's redistricting maps on Monday. With preclearance, the state legislative and congressional maps receive no objection from the U.S. Attorney General on grounds that they violate the requirements of section 5 of Voting Rights Act. Individuals may still challenge the map on other grounds.

Also on Monday, a Florida Circuit Court judge ruled that the state's newly drawn congressional district map will be used for this year's elections despite ongoing legal challenges against it. He advised  that additional testimony and explained ti litigants involved in the case that testimony and evidence required to make a ruling will not come in time for election filing deadlines. Read coverage:
Miami Herald, Florida Current, Palm Beach Post, Orlando Sentinel, CNN, The Hill.     
   
  April 30, 2012 - On Friday, the Florida Supreme Court upheld the state senate's second try at redistricting for the chamber. After justices invalidated several senate districts in the first map for violating the state's new anti-gerrymandering provisions, the court upheld the modified map despite the objections of various groups who maintained the map continued to be a partisan gerrymander.

While the opinion was unanimous in most respects, two African-American justices objected to the splitting of Black voters in the Daytona Beach area. In a concurring opinion one justice urged that redistricting be done by a nonpartisan panel. She also pointed out that the 30 day window current law gives the court to make a determination on the map is insufficient. While the map has passed a facial review by the high court, it is still susceptible to specific challenge in the state's trial courts. Read coverage:
Miami Herald, TambaBay.com, Orlando Sentinel, Tallahassee.com.   »Read the opinion  
   
  April 21, 2012 - On Friday, a superior court rejected the Alaska Redistricting panel's second try at a state legislative map. In February the court invalidated the board's first map on state constitutional grounds. That court ordered the board to redraw the map first in compliance with the state constitution, then make minimal adjustments to comply with federal law.

The court's 
recent opinion chided the board for using the first plan as a template; a plan the court says was the result of a flawed process. While the court has ordered the board to make a third attempt, it mentioned that interim maps may be needed for upcoming elections. Alaska Dispatch, Anchorage Daily News, Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, KTUU.  
   
  April 18, 2012 - The State of New Hampshire has 10 jurisdictions subject to Voting Rights Act preclearance. For decades the state failed to file for preclearance for any of its changes to election/voting procedures except for its redistricting plans. Recently, the state's Attorney General's Office has back-filed all such changes since the 1980's for official preclearance from the Department of Justice. It has asked for expedited review of its state legislative map hoping to gain preclearance in time for the start of the state candidate filing period beginning on June 6.

The public comment period is now open for the submissions. Comments should be made directly to Justice Dept's Civil Rights Division at 1-800-253-3931 or (202) 307-2385 or write Chief, Voting Section, Civil Rights Division, Room 7354 – NWB, Department of Justice, 950 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20530.

Read the recently filed submissions 
   
  April 12, 2012 - Pennsylvania's Legislative Reapportionment commission unveiled new senate and house districts Thursday evening. This is the commission's second attempt at a map after the State Supreme Court invalidated a previous map for splitting too many counties in violation of the state's constitution.

The new map places Harrisburg in a different district, and moves an entire district from the Philadelphia area to the York county region to account for population loss and gains in those areas.
WHTM, PoliticsPA, Pennsylvania Independent, LehighValleyLive. 
   
  Department of Justice Preclears Arizona Congressional Map

April 10, 2012 -
The Civil Rights Division of the Justice Dept. forwarded a "no objection" letter to the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission on Monday, clearing the way for upcoming congressional elections. The state's legislative map is still being reviewed by the Department. A decision is expected by April 30th.
Arizona Republic, Phoenix Business Journal, CNN.  
   
  Federal Panel Adopts Modified Wisconsin Legislative Districts

April 12, 2012
- On Wednesday a federal court in Milwaukee adopted the Democratic plaintiff's map in a challenge to the states' legislative districts which had resulted in the court 
invalidating two districts in the Milwaukee area on the grounds that they diluted the Hispanic vote.

Both parties to the litigation were ordered by the court to agree on a revised map, but the sides could not come to a resolution. Instead, the court received maps from all parties separately.The court choose the map submitted by Democratic lawmakers and civil rights organization Voces de la Frontera because it did a better job at balancing the Hispanic citizen voting age population than the other maps. The state has not decided on whether it will appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The Republic, WTAQ, WisPolitics.com, Herald Times 
   
  Federal Court Dismisses Michigan Legislative Map Challenge

April 10, 2012
- On Monday, a federal judge panel dismissed the case against Michigan's state legislative districts citing the plaintiff's complaint as "too factually under-developed." The plaintiffs; a coalition of civil rights groups and Democratic lawmakers, had 
claimed that the map discriminated against Black incumbents in the Detroit area and diluted Hispanic votes. The Republic, WDIV.   
   
  Florida Supreme Court Will Review Senate's Map Redo and More Alternatives

April 6, 2012-
Weeks after the
court invalidated the Florida senate's map lawmakers have passed a revised plan, but several groups insist the new map still violates the state's anti-gerrymandering law. The League of Women Voters, Common Cause, and the National Council of La Raza have jointly submitted an alternative map. Democrat lawmakers plan to submit an alternative as well. The court has until June 4th to make a determination. Miami HeraldPalm Beach Post, Orlando Sentinel, TampaBay.com.     
   
  In New York, Governor, Lawmakers Lawyer Up for Redistricting Battle
April 6, 2012 - Gov. Cuomo has forgone the state Attorney General's representation in a lawsuit to invaldiate the newly created 63rd senate seat approved by slim Republican majorities in the legislature. Instead, upcoming boutique law firm Zuckerman Spaeder will represent the governor pro bono. The plaintiff's; senate Democrats have also retained private counsel. Wall Street Journal, New York Press, Albany Times Union, The American Lawyer.
 
   
  Texas Court Gives its Rationale for Interim Maps
March 21, 2012-
On Monday, the San Antonio federal court panel that earlier approved interim congressional and legislative maps for upcoming elections in Texas explained its rationale for selecting each map. Read the opinions:

Congressional Map
Senate Map
House Map 
 
   
  New York Congressional Map is Final
 
March 20, 2012 - On Monday afternoon, the U.S. District Court in Brooklyn ordered a congressional plan drawn by magistrate Judge Roanne Mann to serve as the states' new map after it became clear that the governor and the legislature were at an impasse. The plan reduces the number of districts from 29 to 27 as a result of reapportionment.

The most vocal critics of the plan so far have been a
group of voters lobbying for a majority Latino district in the Upper Manhattan area. Proponents of the district rallied at a public hearing on the map last week in Brooklyn. The judges' final map only made minor changes to the proposed map and did not create the Latino district some were hoping for. Read the court order. Read coverage: Politico, New York Times, Albany Times-Union, Roll Call, Reuters.   
   
 
Texas Court Releases Redrawn Interim Redistricting Maps

February 28, 2012
- The federal court in San Antonio overseeing Texas redistricting litigation released its second set of interim maps to be used for a scheduled March 29 primary. The maps drawn by the court in lieu of an agreement between litigants reportedly resemble 
compromise maps agreed to by the Texas Attorney General and the Texas Latino Redistricting Task Force. The congressional map features two additional minority districts and retains a five-way split of the Austin area.

Texas election law attorney Michael Li, warned in an interview with the Houston Chronicle that by maintaining the split of the Austin area the court runs the risk of the D.C. court handing down an opinion in the coming weeks that invalidates portion of the Austin area split, which involves large concentration of minorities. The possibility also remains that one or some of the parties to the Texas litigation will file another appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. Read coverage: Houston Chronicle, Wall Street Journal, Politico, The Hill, San Antonio Express, Bloomberg News, Washington Post, Austin Chronicle.    
 

*corrected to show that the Texas Latino Redistricting Task Force and not the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) supported the congressional compromise map with the TX Attorney General.
 
   
  Florida Justices Hint at Broadened Review of the State's Legislative Maps  

February 21, 2012 - On Tuesday, the Florida State Supreme Court issued an order requesting information on incumbent lawmakers home addresses. State officials defending the maps had 
briefed the court last week that a factual inquiry into the map-drawing process is not required by the state constitution. Plaintiffs on the other hand disagreed, insisting that new constitutional amendments require a broad factual inquiry.

The constitution among other things, prohibits "intentionally" drawing lines to protect incumbents and parties. The court's request suggests the court will give the maps more detailed scrutiny. The order also exposes a future divide among justices- it was approved by a 4-3 vote. Read coverage:
Sunshine State News, Miami Herald, Orlando Sentinel.  
  
   
  New Mexico Special Master Submits Revised Legislative Map

February 27, 2012 - Nearly 3 weeks ago the New Mexico State Supreme Court rejected a legislative map drawn by its own special master. Citing the retired judges' use of an uneccessarily strict population deviation standard, justices ordered a more politically map that maintained the "status quo." read coverage:
RealClearPolitics, Kasa.com, Nola.com.   
   
  Florida Justices Hint at Broadened Review of the State's Legislative Maps  

February 21, 2012 - On Tuesday, the Florida State Supreme Court issued an order requesting information on incumbent lawmakers home addresses. State officials defending the maps had 
briefed the court last week that a factual inquiry into the map-drawing process is not required by the state constitution. Plaintiffs on the other hand disagreed, insisting that new constitutional amendments require a broad factual inquiry.

The constitution among other things, prohibits "intentionally" drawing lines to protect incumbents and parties. The court's request suggests the court will give the maps more detailed scrutiny. The order also exposes a future divide among justices- it was approved by a 4-3 vote. Read coverage:
Sunshine State News, Miami Herald, Orlando Sentinel.  
 
   
  Federal Court Rules Redistricting Documents Not Protected Under Attorney Client Privelege; Orders Wisconsin Lawmakers to Produce Them

Feb 17, 2012 - A Federal court on Thursday ordered Republican lawmakers in Wisconsin to produce emails and other documents that reveal the strategy and negotiating activity of those involved in the redistricting process.

The documents included signed pledges of secrecy by over 50 lawmakers. The court panel determined the documents, some of which were prepared by an attorney - were actually political in nature and thus not covered under the attorney-client privelege. The Milwaukee based Latino community group Voces de la Frontera is suing the state over the redistricting map and claims that the process was closed to the public. Read coverage: FOX, Lacrosse Tribune, Appleton Post, Milwaukee Public Radio.   
  
   
  Texas Judge Panel Floats a Late May Primary after Impasse on Interim Maps Continues

Feb 16, 2012 - Without officially setting what would be a third date for Texas primaries, a San Antonio judge panel advised parties to the redistricting litigation they should plan for a May 29 primary. The panels' decision was made after a 2 day hearing on interim redistricting maps that only yielded agreement on the state's senate map. Litigating parties still remain far apart on over 50 house districts and the congressional map. Read coverage: Dallas Morning News, Houston Chronicle, New York Times, Washington Post, Texas Tribune

  
   
  New York: Federal Judge Requests a Special Master to Take Over Congressional Map   

Feb 14, 2012- On Monday, a U.S. District Court judge hearing a case brought by civic leaders who had complained the state's redistricting process has stalled - called for a special master to draw New York's congressional map.

The committee of state lawmakers responsible for developing maps recently released a 
state legislative map and is currently holding public hearings. A congressional map has not been released so far and many fear that a tough negotiating environment may make coming to a compromise difficult. The judge noted in her opinion that the state has a history of redistricting gridlock; it failed to produce maps for the previous two redistricting cycles. read coverage: New York Times, NY Daily News, Albany Times-Union, WNYC

 
   
  Texas Primary in Limbo as Negotiation Deadline Passes 

Feb 8, 2012
- The court set deadline for an agreement among litigants in the Texas redistrict cases has come and gone. Late Monday afternoon it appeared that an agreement had been reached between The Texas Attorney General and the several plaintiffs in the case, but as more details trickled in between Monday evening and Tuesday morning it became apparent that not all of the plaintiffs were on board.

The maps that Texas had offered in compromise would have created interim maps for the April 3rd primary that would have added two new Hispanic majority congressional and legislative districts. While one of the major minority plaintiffs- the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF) agreed to the maps, other plaintiffs refused. The court made clear that "all" parties must agree in order to preserve the already delayed April 3rd primary date. At present, it seems that Texas may lose its opportunity to influence a key Republican presidential primary. Read coverage.
Bloomberg, Washington Post, Texas TribuneThe Hill, Austin-American Statesman, Los Angeles Times, Politico, New York Times.
 
   
  Texas Redistricting Update: No D.C. Decision Soon

Feb 2, 2012 - Yesterday the federal panel in D.C. heard final arguments in the preclearance case for Texas' redistricting maps. Immediately following trial the panel dropped a small bombshell when it announced that a ruling will not be forthcoming anytime soon (at least 30 days).

That was unsettling for many of the parties in the San Antonio case who are struggling to reach a settlement on interim maps to use for upcoming primaries on April 3rd, a date that seems to be increasingly unlikely as each day passes without district maps.

Meanwhile, the San Antonio court has set a February 8th trial date for claims against Texas' senate maps. Read coverage:
San Antonio Express, Bloomberg, Houston Chronicle, Washington Post.  
 
   
  Jan 27, 2012- The California Supreme Court ruled today that the maps created by the state's first Independent redistricting commission can be used for upcoming elections despite an ongoing effort to petition the map to referendum. Read coverage: Sacramento Bee, Los Angeles Times, Ballot Access, San Francisco Chronicle.

Read the court opinion
  
   
  Jan 27, 2012 - State lawmakers in Albany, NY released a much awaited legislative map proposal yesterday which makes dramatic changes to the state's current electoral map, including creating Asian majority districts and adding a 63rd seat to the state senate. The redistricting process in New York has been controversial since preparations began to redraw maps. Read coverage: Wall Street Journal, Huffington Post, CBS, Lohud.com, Long Island Press.      
  Jan 24, 2012- On Monday, the San Antonio federal judge panel overseeing challenges against Texas redistricting maps agreed to move up a scheduled conference date in order to establish final interim maps in time for a scheduled April 3, primary date. The Supreme Court rejected the panel's first set of interim maps an ordered the panel produce modified maps. The panel's order requires all parties to the litigation to agree on and present maps to the panel by February 6. Read coverage: Businessweek, Bloomberg, Houston Chronicle.        
  Jan 24, 2012 - An Arkansas state senator and a group of residents from the eastern portion of the state have sued the Arkansas State Board of Apportionment. The suit, filed in federal court on Monday, claims that at least one senatorial district diluted the African-American vote, reducing its Black population from 58% to 53%. Read coverage: Arkansas News, KUAR, Helena-Arkansas.com.
Read the lawsuit.   
   
  Jan 20, 2012- The Supreme Court handed down its opinion today in the Texas Redistricting case, overturning a lower court's interim redistricting maps that were to be used in upcoming elections. In a per curiam (unanimous)opinion the court unambiguously chided the San Antonio panel of federal judges for not giving more 'deference' to the state of Texas' newly enacted redistricting plans when drawing the temporary maps. Read coverage: SCOTUSBlog, NY Times, NPR, Houston Chronicle, Washington Post, PoliticoSlate, Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times
 
   
  Jan 9, 2012- The Supreme Court held 68 minutes of oral argument in Texas' interim map appeal Monday. the transcript reveals the court's thinking on several possible avenues for resolution as well its preference to not consider the constitutionality of section 5 of the Voting Rights Act- as some had feared. Read initial coverage: Houston Chronicle, Texas Tribune, ABC News, SCOTUSBlog, New York Times, Politico.

Read the Transcript.  
 
   
  Jan 8, 2012 - On Friday the D.C. Court of Appeals granted plaintiffs request in Laroque v. Holder for an expedited appeal schedule. The case, brought by voters in Kinston, North Carolina, challenges section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. Attorneys in the case requested the expedited schedule in the hope of taking the case to the Supreme Court in time to be decided along with another case challenging the constitutionality of Sec. 5; Shelby Co. v. Holder. Read the court order.      
  Jan 7, 2012 - On the eve of the Supreme Court's oral arguments in the Texas interim redistricting map appeal, at least one organization is planning a rally on the steps of the court and experts and observers everywhere are chiming in on what they think will happen. Read coverage: ABA Journal, SCOTUSblogSCOTUSblog forum, CATO Institute, Slate, Politico, Chicago-Tribune, Kansas City Star.  
 
   
  Dec 22, 2011 The U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. upheld the constitutionality of section 5 of the Voting Rights Rights Act on Thursday for the second time in a case involving voters in the city of Kinston, N.C. The case involved the city of Kinston's desire to change its partisan primaries to nonpartisan. The Justice Dept. however, declined to approve the move on the basis that it would hurt minority voters. WRAL, Dailycaller, The Republic.

Read the opinion in Laroque v. Holder here.