From the New York Times:
The United States Supreme Court agreed today to review the constitutionality of the Texas redistricting plan that was engineered by Representative Tom DeLay, the House majority leader until recently, and helped Republicans add to their majority from the Lone Star State.
The justices will consider several lawsuits by Democrats and minority groups challenging the redrawn maps of voting districts pushed through in 2003. The redistricting has been credited with helping Republicans gain five more seats in the Texas delegation to the House of Representatives in 2004, increasing the Republican ranks to 21, compared with 11 Texas Democrats.
Today’s announcement by the Supreme Court comes 10 days after the Justice Department acknowledged that some of its top officials had overruled a determination by the agency’s civil rights division staff in 2003 that the redistricting plan would dilute the voting strength of minorities in violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1965.
The justices are likely to hear arguments in the spring and issue a decision before they adjourn for the summer, just before the 2006 Congressional election campaigns begin in earnest. How the court’s decision will affect the Texas races is likely to be a subject of conjecture for many months.
Let’s start the conjecture right now. If the Court rules against the redistricting, Tom DeLay and the Texas Republican Party will be given a lesson in geography, i.e. finding out that they are up Shit Creek. It will also have ramifications in the other states where both political parties are testing the waters on redistricting out of season. The GOP will scream “activist judges gone wild!” and demand the impeachment of every justice that votes in favor of overruling the Texas legislature. Remember, activist judges are bad unless they’re doing your bidding, like keeping Terri Schiavo alive until you can get your photo op done.
If the Court rules in favor of the redistricting, then it will appear that the Supreme Court is hopelessly politicized, sealing the suspicion of many that the only reason George W. Bush prevailed in Bush v. Gore in 2000 was because he was a Republican. Regardless of the fine points of law they may use in their opinion, the appearance will be that the fix is in and the judiciary will be seen as the pawns of the GOP. Gee, what a shock.
It will be interesting to see if any of the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee will ask Judge Alito about his views on redistricting. He will dodge it, of course, but still it would be fun to hear how he avoids tipping his hand.