By Michael King
On Friday, Sept. 30, in the latest chapter of the perennial partisan Texas fiasco known as “redistricting,” the San Antonio federal court currently tasked with adjudicating a broad challenge to the proposed state legislative and congressional maps for next year’s elections announced a temporary solution: the court’s own interim map in the event the judicial process doesn’t move quickly enough to plan next spring’s primaries. In the order signed by federal Judge Orlando Garcia on behalf of the three-judge panel (U.S. District Court, Western District of Texas, San Antonio Division), the court noted that since the state of Texas (defending the maps) has appealed directly to the U.S. District Court in D.C. to preclear the maps under the Voting Rights Act (instead of submitting them to the Department of Justice), the San Antonio court must wait for the D.C. court to rule before it can make a decision.
The D.C. court’s timetable is uncertain, so the San Antonio court says it will work with the parties on interim maps to be used if no approved maps are available in time for the March primaries. While the panel will continue to review the case, the judges wrote, “the Court has an obligation to the public to consider other available options …. One of those options is the consideration of an interim court-ordered plan.” (The previous day, the court had enjoined all Texas jurisdictions against beginning to implement the yet-to-be-approved legislative maps.)