Senate Interim Committee on Legislative
and Congressional Redistricting
Monitor the developments in three legal actions: Bush v. Vera,
challenging Texas' congressional districts; Thomas v. Bush,
challenging Texas' Senate and House districts; and census adjustment
lawsuit on appeal to U.S. Supreme Court (Wisconsin v. City
of New York).
The committee did not issue an interim report. The following
chronology of events in these three cases was derived from memos
issued by the committee to its members.
BUSH V. VERA
entitled Vera v. Richards) is filed challenging constitutionality
of the state's current congressional districts, alleging that
the legislature had attempted to segregate voters by race, creating
minority districts. Such racial gerrymandering, the suit contended,
violated the equal protections provisions of the Fourteenth Amendment
of the U.S. Constitution. A panel of three federal judges is
later appointed to hear the case.
8/17/94-The three-judge panel
finds that three of the congressional districts, Districts 18,
29, and 30, were unconstitutional.
9/2/94-Judges allow the November
1994, congressional elections to be held using the current districts.
The state legislature is given until March 15, 1995, to create
new districts conforming to the court's ruling (a stay of this
date was later granted).
9/22/94-State files notice
of appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
6/13/96-U.S. Supreme Court
affirms the lower court's decision. Subsequently, the lower court
holds a hearing concerning development of remedial districting
8/6/96-After the parties to
the suit fail to agree on a plan, the lower court issues a temporary
plan that redraws 13 districts and orders congressional elections
for November 5, 1996, with runoffs on December 10, 1996. These
elections are open to multiple candidates, regardless of party.
The state is ordered to have a redistricting plan in place by
June 30, 1997, for the 1998 elections.
9/4/96-U.S. Supreme Court
declines to stay the lower court's plan.
THOMAS V. BUSH
1/25/95-Suit is filed challenging
the constitutionality of certain state Senate and House districts,
making many of the same allegations of unconstitutional racial
gerrymandering as put forward in Bush.
3/29/95-Court grants change
of venue to Austin.
4/11/95-Panel of three federal
judges are appointed to hear case.
7/7/95-Status conference held
concerning proposed settlement.
7/25/95-Texas Attorney General's
Office issues a letter opinion that a court-ordered plan would
not require senators to redraw for terms, but a legislatively-enacted
settlement of the suit would require all senators to run for election.
is submitted to the federal Department of Justice for approval.
7/27/95-Parties file the proposed
settlement plan with court.
8/25/95-Department of Justice
plan is filed, to be effective for the 1996 election.
9/15/95-Court adopts settlement
plan, effective for the 1996 election.
9/19/95-Court grants motion
of a third-year law student, Brian Walters, to intervene. Walters
asserts that if a court-ordered settlement changes Senate district
boundaries, the entire Senate must run for reelection in 1996.
As a party, Walters asserts he will be able to appeal the court's
WISCONSIN V. CITY OF NEW YORK
3/20/96-The U.S. Supreme Court,
in a unanimous decision, held that the 1990 census would not have
to be statistically readjusted to account for the estimated undercounting
of minorities. If the court had required the census to be adjusted,
Texas could have had to redraw congressional, legislative, and
other electoral districts.