Carving up Texas for political gain

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If ever there was a case of blatant political chicanery, it is the redistricting controversy in Texas. And it appears the Supreme Court may not enter the fray even though it should.

To remind readers, former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay could not wait for the 2010 census to deliver his own Texas-style thievery. DeLay and his Republican cohort in the Texas Legislature redesigned the map of Texas to get rid of a half-dozen Democratic seats and four Democratic incumbents in the process.

The argument of the Texas GOP-ers was specious at best. They claimed Democrats had done it to them when they were in power before 2000. So I guess they figured payback is legal in the Lone Star State. At least Democrats did some carving after a census.

In addition, Republicans claimed that Texas voted overwhelmingly Republican for George W. Bush and that the party should be rewarded. And they even maintained it ensured some Hispanic and African-American districts, as if DeLay ever cared much about civil or voting rights.

The Democrats, who once controlled the state in the days of Lyndon B. Johnson and Sam Rayburn, cried foul and sued. They tried to stymie the plan in the Legislature but eventually gave up the fight after some stalling tactics failed.

The Texas delegation is now divided between 21 Republicans and just 11 Democrats.

So why wouldn't Democrats be eager to strike back at this grab for power in a shameless manner?

Now DeLay is under indictment. His clout, at least in the House, has been diminished. But he still hovers over party affairs back home and revels in his accomplishment of designing the state to his liking.

The case has reached the Supreme Court. In arguments before the court this week, some justices–even the liberals–appeared to question whether it was appropriate to delve into a political dispute in a state. Remember, the court ruled against the recount in Florida in the 2000 election, thus depriving Al Gore of a recount in disputed counties and handing the presidency to Bush.

If the Democrats lose in court, they should consider their own retribution.

Take the state of California, now divided between 33 Democrats and 20 Republicans in the House. The state has two Democratic senators and has consistently voted for Democrats in presidential elections, and registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans by 43 percent to 34 percent. Besides, Democrats got knocked around when former Gov. Gray Davis was recalled in favor of Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Democratic legislators in Sacramento should get together and find a way to carve up the state to suit party majorities and not wait until the 2010 census. DeLay and his band of brothers didn't bother, so why should Democrats wait?

If you don't like California, how about Illinois? Maybe that state is ripe for mischief making.

The bottom line in this sordid tale is that DeLay and his coconspirators in Texas have opened new ground in gerrymandering. Yes, both parties have done it in the past, but almost always after census figures come in.