US Supreme Court Prepares To Whack Texas Again

After Ricky-boy Perry signed into state law election maps later ruled by a federal court to be in violation of the Voting Rights Act of 1964, a panel of federal judges in San Antonio, operating under pressure of impending primaries (typically in March in Texas in presidential years), made maps of their own. The maps were submitted to the DC Circuit for approval under the Voting Rights Act. The DC Circuit hasn’t responded yet.

The period in which candidates may apply to be on the ballot began about two weeks ago… yes, it’s that late in the game. Several candidates are direly affected. One candidate moved to a new home to be certain of being in a particular new district. Another candidate, a Republican, found his home in different districts on the two maps; he doesn’t know now which of the districts he can run in, if either. Several other candidates decided not to run for re-election in districts sufficiently changed that they felt they had no chance of winning. Things were in a state of mild confusion…

… until the US Supreme Court intervened and rendered things into a state of utter chaos. With a six-sentence order, the Court stayed the order of the San Antonio panel “pending further order of the Court,” and scheduled a January 9 hearing. The choice of maps in Texas has strong partisan implications, mainly centering around the significant increase in the percentage of Hispanics and African Americans tallied in the most recent Census.

We just about had it worked out so that primaries could be held when they are usually scheduled. And then the Supreme Court tossed a spanner in the works. If you ever held the delusion that the US Supreme Court was an impartial, nonpartisan body, you can forget it now.

Nobody here knows what will happen on Jan. 9, and what districting map will be used in the 2012 primaries. At present, there are literally no district maps in the State of Texas. Imagine what this does to candidates on both sides of the political divide… especially Democrats, who in some cases tossed their hats in the ring because of the anticipated district changes implemented to comply with the Voting Rights Act. Now, if the Court rules on Jan. 9 (no certainty, of course), those candidates will have at most two months to prepare and campaign for the primaries. Two months. And that’s optimistic; that’s the best it could turn out.

I am trying to take this in the context of everything else I’m reading lately. That leads me to the conclusion that the primary self-appointed task of the US Supreme Court is to interrupt or inhibit democracy every chance it gets, in the indisputable interest of the wealthiest 1%. Perhaps it was stupid of me ever to think the 2012 elections would not be rigged. But as of now, it certainly looks probable that the fix is in.

(Sources for this post are at TPM and at Texas Tribune.)

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