Monday, April 23, 2012

Redistricting Update

I want to comment a bit on the Attorney General's decision to appeal from part of the final order in the redistricting case. *

Peter Earle, attorney for Voces de La Frontera, denounced the decision to appeal as a "laughable, partisan stunt ....”

Whatever one thinks of Van Hollen's decision to appeal, it is not partisan. In fact, most Republicans that I have spoken to thought he should not appeal. As far as they are concerned, the redistricting case was a complete win. The Republican plan was upheld on 97 of 99 Assembly districts (including everyone that the GOP would ever have a chance to win) and all 33 Senate districts. All eight Congressional districts still stand. Why bother?

Earle and his group wanted to use a claim under the Voting Rights Act to tear apart the legislative redistricting plan. They were unsuccessful in doing do and all of their other claims were rejected.
But they were able to convince the panel that the VRA required packing even more Latino voters into the 8th Assembly District than the legislature had done. While they wanted the Court to use this finding to affect more than the 8th and 9th Assembly Districts, it refused. It ordered only that the boundary between 8 and 9 be redrawn while leaving the outer boundaries of the two districts is intact.

The result is an even safer district for JoCasta Zamarippa. Good for her and her allies at Voces. It may also make it harder for Latino voters to form a coalition with non-Latino voters to elect a candidate of their choice in the 9th. Bad for people who care about that.

But the one group that had no political stake in the outcome was the Republican party. They were never going to win either the 8th or 9th Assembly District and have no partisan interest in how the lines between them were drawn.
The reason that I think Van Hollen has decided to "bother" with an appeal - in fact I can think of no other reason - is that he thinks the panel is wrong on the law and he wants to ask the Court to clarify just what the Voting Rights Act requires. Maybe he'll turn out to be wrong (although I don't think so) but it strikes me as a perfectly appropriate thing for the state's chief legal officer to do.

I understand a lawyer not wanting the other side to appeal when he's won something but it happens. Indeed, it's quite normal and we usually don't castigate our brothers and sisters at the bar for doing their job. In any event, accusing the Attorney General of partisanship for doing something in which he and his party have no partisan interest is should we say, strained.

* Full disclosure: I represented Jesus Rodriguez and Hispanics Leadership as an amicus supporting the Government Accountability Board's proposed redrawing of Districts 8 and 9.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Rick- The only claim advanced by the Voces de la Frontera plaintiffs was the VRA claim of vote dilution in the 8th and 9th Assembly Districts. They prevailed completely on every claim they advanced. And it has been rumored that the reason the AG appealed is he wanted to avoid having the trial court issue its ruling awarding attorneys fees just prior to the Recall elections.