The Texas re-redistricting plan is nearing its trial on 11 December. The pretrial motions are coming hot and heavy. The Houston Chronicle reports:
A three-judge federal court has scheduled a hearing Monday on U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay's effort to avoid testifying in a lawsuit challenging Texas' new congressional redistricting plan.
DeLay, R-Sugar Land, and U.S. Rep. Joe Barton, R-Ennis, have filed motions to quash a Democratic subpoena for their sworn testimony.
The hearing will be conducted via conference phone call among the judges and lawyers in the case.
Democrats and minority groups have filed several lawsuits challenging the redistricting plan, which DeLay pressured the Legislature into enacting to increase the number of Republicans elected to Congress.
The federal panel -- including U.S. District Judges T. John Ward of Marshall and Lee H. Rosenthal of Houston and appellate Judge Patrick E. Higginbotham of Dallas -- will begin a combined trial of the lawsuits on Dec. 11 in Austin.
The Hill reported:
Claiming not to trust Rep. Martin Frost, who heads the delegation’s opposition to the GOP-drawn map, two African-American Texas lawmakers have retained their own lawyer to represent them in court challenges.
“I don’t have any basic trust with [Frost] when it comes to drawing maps,” said Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas). She and Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) have hired civil-rights lawyer Anthony Griffin to safeguard their interests. Attorney Gerry Hebert represents Frost and most other Texas Democrats.
Also adding to the split are the interests of at least two white Democratic incumbents — Reps. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas) and Chris Bell (D-Texas) — who are eyeing seats in new districts crafted for minority representation.
Meanwhile, the Justice Department is considering whether to preclear the plan. The San Antonia Express-News reports:
A Hispanic civil rights group told the Justice Department on Friday that a newly adopted redistricting plan in Texas would dilute minority strength at the ballot box and violate the voting rights of Hispanics.
The League of United Latin American Citizens said the plan decreases the number of minority-majority congressional districts from 12 to nine.
LULAC said minorities have lost their majority status in three congressional districts — in Dallas, Austin and the San Antonio-based 23rd which sweeps from Laredo to El Paso.
"Our position is that we are clearly worse off because we lost three congressional districts," said Rolando Rios of San Antonio, one of four LULAC attorneys who participated in the Justice Department hearing.