We appear to have a break in the redistricting wars that could be just long enough for an election, but the fighting isn't over.
Some unresolved details remain.
First, there is a three-judge federal panel in Washington, D.C. deciding whether the maps drawn by the Legislature comply with Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. The interim maps ordered this week by the judges in San Antonio made educated guesses at what the Washington court will do, and the Texas maps will likely stand (barring a successful Supreme Court challenge) through the 2012 elections.
But when the Washington court rules, its findings will needed to be folded into remedial maps, again drawn by the judges in San Antonio. Unless there's some unforeseen mess — some flaw that in the opinion of the courts can't be left alone during this election cycle — they can produce their remedial maps almost any time this year.
Keep your eye on that, though. This redistricting cycle has been odd from the start and there are some precedents for a special election here or there to correct something in the maps.
Once the courts produce those remedial maps and the appeals are over, they're done. But Texas forged the way for mid-decade redistricting almost a decade ago, and if lawmakers don't like the maps that finally come out of the courts, they can always come back for another bite in 2013.
The next news on the legal front will probably come from the Supreme Court — accepting or declining appeals on the interim maps — and from the Washington, D.C., circuit court, ruling on any Section 5 violations in the Legislature's maps.
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