Can The Texas Legislature – Legally – Redraw New Political Boundaries? 

Lawmakers’ lawsuit argues that redistricting can’t happen during a special legislative session.

By Rhonda Fanning & Terri LangfordSeptember 2, 2021 2:30 pm

The fight over new voting restrictions has now given way to a new battle on the horizon: Texas redistricting.

Each decade, the Texas Legislature begins redrawing political boundaries based on the most recent U.S. census tallies.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has called a special session for the fall, but already, two Democratic state senators have filed a lawsuit claiming redistricting must be done during a “regular” not a “special” legislative session, as spelled out in the Texas Constitution.

Charles “Rocky” Rhodes, a professor at South Texas College of Law in Houston, believes state Sens. Roland Gutierrez of San Antonio and Sarah Eckhardt of Austin may have a good argument because the Texas Constitution says lawmakers have to decide on boundaries during the first regular session after the census numbers are published.

“So their argument is, we’re not having a regular session for 16 more months. And so, therefore, that’s the first time the Legislature can take up redistricting,” Rhodes told Texas Standard.

The senators are asking the court to decide on the boundaries because legally, they argue, the Legislature, cannot do so.

“I think that’s what this lawsuit is really designed to do, is they’re trying to have the courts at least draw the initial boundaries, realizing that the Legislature could come back in 2023 and change it,” Rhodes said. “But the courts, when they draw the boundaries, they don’t take partisan considerations into account; they’re not allowed to.”

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