[JURIST] A newly-disclosed memo [PDF text] reveals that US Department of Justice [official website] staff initially opposed a controversial 2003 Texas redistricting plan as violative of the Voting Rights Act [DOJ backgrounder], concluding that Texas "has not met its burden in showing that the proposed congressional redistricting plan does not have a discriminatory effect." Senior DOJ officials, however, decided not to follow the recommendation and approved the plan. This past June, federal courts ruled the plan constitutional [JURIST report]; that ruling is on appeal to the Supreme Court. The memo was not available to the parties then, and a lawyer representing opponents of the plan says it can be important now.
Last month a similar DOJ staff memo revealed an initial recommendation of rejection for Georgia's new voter-identification law [PDF text] which was later nixed by higher-ups, although the US Eleventh Circuit eventually upheld an injunction against the law [JURIST report]. Friday's Washington Post has more.
3:44 PM ET - US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales on Friday defended the DOJ decision to approve the Texas redistricting plan, saying that the decision was made by people "confirmed by the Senate to exercise their own independent judgment". Gonzales also said that internal disagreement did not mean that the final decision came out the wrong way and pointed the plan's approval in federal court as evidence that the DOJ made the correct decision. AP has more.
Previously in JURIST's Paper Chase...
- Federal judges back Texas redistricting again on remand
- Supreme Court orders lower court to reconsider Texas congressional redistricting map
- Texas redistricting plan upheldTexas redistricting plan to be considered by courts
- Texas Democrats challenge new redistricting law
- Texas lawmakers reach tentative redistricting agreement