The court dismissed Roy Charles Brooks v. Greg Abbott on Monday, siding presumably with the State of Texas’ contention that the appeal was untimely filed. The challenge is against the drawing of Senate District (SD) 10, originally filed by the seat’s occupant Sen. Beverly Powell (D-Burleson).
During redistricting, SD 10 was redrawn from a narrow Democratic advantage to an R-60% district according to The Texan’s Texas Partisan Index — making it heavily favorable to Republicans. In April, Powell withdrew her re-election candidacy, citing an “unwinnable race.”
State Rep. Phil King (R-Weatherford) will succeed Powell next year after winning the primary and general elections.
The appeal to the highest court was filed on June 2, well beyond the 30-day window after the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals’ February 2 denial of the petitioners’ request to block the district’s March primary.
Powell’s challenge, on which Tarrant County Commissioner Roy Charles Brooks (D-Pct. 1) signed as an additional plaintiff, claimed that the district’s lines violated federal law prohibiting “racial discrimination” of minority groups by “cracking” their communities up and dividing them into different districts.
Just before that appeals court ruling, retiring Sen. Kel Seliger (R-Amarillo) said in a deposition for the case that “[I]t was obvious to me that the renewed effort to dismantle [SD 10] violated the Voting Rights Act and U.S. Constitution.”
Seliger then backtracked on the statement, saying in an interview, “I don’t really believe that, but I signed that thing for Senator Powell and certainly it was the only opportunity to forward my feelings about my district.”
“I signed it because I didn’t like my district, and I thought there might be a problem with Senator Powell’s district, and that’s all it is.”
The Texas Legislature must pass redistricting maps next session, due to a requirement in the state constitution that maps be passed in the first regular session after the release of the U.S. Census. The Legislature passed the current maps in the September-October special session last year after the census was delayed until spring 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
It may be as simple as passing the same maps again for continuity’s sake. But Republicans could try and adjust the lines further after a lackluster midterm showing in certain areas of the state — specifically winning only two of three South Texas congressional races.
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Brad Johnson is a senior reporter for The Texan and an Ohio native who graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 2017. He is an avid sports fan who most enjoys watching his favorite teams continue their title drought throughout his cognizant lifetime. In his free time, you may find Brad quoting Monty Python productions and trying to calculate the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow.