April 21, 2021

2020 Election Implications for the Redistricting Process in Texas | Foley & Lardner LLP

With a number of information studies of Democrats making a push in Texas each on the federal degree and on the state legislative degree in gentle of positive factors the Democratic Celebration made within the state within the 2018 cycle, the subsequent redistricting might play out in another way than the final two redistricting cycles throughout which Republicans held full management of the method. It is a perform of which our bodies management the drawing of each congressional and state maps in the midst of the method.

Understanding the Texas Redistricting Course of1 

That course of begins with federal census inhabitants information being delivered to the legislature no later than April 1 of the yr following the decennial census. After technical importing and verification of that information, members of the legislature and different events start drawing plans. Payments to enact new state redistricting plans comply with the identical path by the legislature as different laws.

Redistricting payments comply with related paths by the legislature as different laws, though there are variations with respect to the actual maps being drawn. Congressional and State Board of Schooling district payments could also be launched in both or each homes, whereas state senate and state home redistricting payments historically originate solely of their respective homes. Like different laws, as soon as redistricting payments are authorised by each homes of the legislature, the payments go to the governor, who could signal the payments into legislation, enable them to take impact with out a signature, or veto them.

If the state home or state senate redistricting invoice fails to move or is vetoed and the veto isn’t overridden by the legislature, Texas legislation requires the Legislative Redistricting Board (LRB) to satisfy inside 90 days of the tip of that common session and, inside 60 days of convening, to undertake its personal home or senate plan. The LRB is comprised of the lieutenant governor, speaker of the home, lawyer common, comptroller, and commissioner of the overall land workplace. At current, all of those officers are Republicans with 4 of the 5 being elected statewide and their workplaces not on the poll once more till November 2022. Solely the speaker’s workplace is up for election in January 2021 (by the members of the Texas home).

Considerably, the Texas Supreme Court docket has interpreted the LRB’s authority to come up not solely when the legislature actually fails to behave, but in addition when legislative redistricting plans are discovered invalid. In consequence, if the legislature’s plan is vetoed by the governor and the veto can’t be overridden by the legislature, or if the plan is overturned by a closing judicial ruling inside the 90‐day interval by which the LRB is given redistricting authority, redistricting for the state home and state senate turns into the duty of the LRB. If the legislature and LRB each fail to undertake a state senate or state home plan, a courtroom will possible difficulty a plan to fill the void.

If the congressional or SBOE invoice fails to move or is vetoed and the veto isn’t overridden, the governor could name a particular session to think about the matter. If the governor doesn’t name a particular session, then a state or federal district courtroom possible will difficulty courtroom‐ordered plans.

Outlook and Implications

At current most analysts are projecting the Republicans will maintain the state senate and sure preserve a slim majority within the state home of representatives. Nonetheless, many see a larger chance than at any time since 2008 for the Democrats to win a majority within the state home of representatives (in 2008, the Republicans misplaced seats however retained a slim 76-74 majority that subsequently grew and remained giant till Democrats captured a dozen seats within the 2018 election to supply the present 83 seat Republican majority).

Ought to the Democrats take the bulk within the Texas Home of Representatives and elect a Democratic speaker for the primary time in virtually twenty years, there are apparent implications for redistricting in that the brand new speaker and Democratic caucus would exert larger affect on the drawing of all maps. Within the case of state home and state senate maps, nonetheless, ought to the legislature and Republican Governor Greg Abbot not be capable to agree, the method could possibly be determined by the LRB, which on this state of affairs would virtually definitely be virtually all Republican members except for the speaker’s workplace. Accordingly, the Republican Celebration would nonetheless have the stronger hand in drawing these maps. Nonetheless, the LRB doesn’t cope with congressional maps. Accordingly, within the absence of legislative and gubernatorial settlement, these maps possible could be drawn by the courts.

In actuality, all of the maps, whether or not state home and state senate or congressional maps, are more likely to be subjected to judicial scrutiny. Nonetheless, a divided state authorities for the primary time in a very long time might reduce Republican affect on the last word closing and judicially-approved maps. And that might have every kind of implications at each the state capitol and in congress. For instance, maps that produce much less Republican dominance on the state capitol could possibly be a boon to shopper safety advocates who search larger regulation of an array of industries. Or extra possible, so long as Republicans managed the governor’s mansion and the state senate, maps that lead to extra Democratic illustration on the state capitol might merely lead to extra gridlock and stasis.


On the finish of the day, a lot stays to be seen as to how the election course of will play out and what it portends for redistricting. However at a minimal, there’s extra chance than would have been foreseen only a few years in the past for the Democrats to have extra affect in redistricting than they’ve had in a very long time.


1 This part summarizes the fabric set forth on the Texas Legislature’s web site.

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