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Court Upholds Most of Texas Redistricting Map - Mark Davis

As the Supreme Court gives a virtually complete thumbs-up to the Texas redistricting plan sired by Tom DeLay, some of the reaction has contained moments of thorough nonsense.

First among these is the notion that DeLay was involved in some Republican "power grab." If so, it was a grab only in the way that one would grab one's own property from the hands of a thief. As redistricting was undertaken, the Texas congressional delegation featured 17 Democrats and 15 Republicans, an abomination in a state as red as Texas. (I would similarly scoff if a liberal enclave like Massachusetts had a majority of Republican members of Congress).

The legislature failed to redistrict right after the 2000 census, leading judges to do it instead. The state Constitution calls for lawmakers, not judges, to draw districts, so the legislature tackled it again in 2003, arriving at a plan that made Democrats apoplectic because it stood to strip them of more than a half-dozen seats in Congress, a development an objective observer would call a return to a delegation reflective of the electorate.

But in the hands of analysts to whom anything Republicans do is bad, and anything Tom DeLay does is worse, this thoroughly proper development is couched in the most sinister of terms.

The only portion of Texas redistricting that snagged on the high court was Republican Henry Bonilla's 23rd district. Somehow the loss of some of the Hispanics there struck the justices as a denial of "minority voting rights," whatever those are.

Is there such a thing as a racial constituency's right to the likelihood of a congressman of a certain race or party? Even before that debate starts, one must dispense with the shallow analysis that a heavily Hispanic district must be a Democrat district. Rep. Bonilla, a popular Republican who stood ready to run for Kay Bailey Hutchison's U.S. Senate seat if she had run for Governor, garnered nearly 70 percent in the 2004 vote in a vast district nestled along the Mexican border.

The days when minority constituencies can be pigeonholed are dwindling. The Supreme Court seems to be behind the learning curve on that development.

- Mark Davis
Host of The Mark Davis Radio Show