The Big Conversation
The challenges to Republican-drawn maps from 2011 return to a San Antonio federal courtroom Monday morning with The Associated Press reporting that the U.S. Department of Justice is deciding to become more closely involved with the case.
"The Justice Department wasn't actively involved in the Texas lawsuit until it sought approval to join the case last year," wrote Paul J. Weber of The AP. "Attorneys say the Justice Department have been aggressively preparing for trial and not staying on the sidelines. 'They've been taking a prime role in depositions and discovery,' said Robert Notzon, an attorney for the Texas NAACP. 'They're not sitting back.'"
At issue on Monday is the Texas House map drawn in 2011. Although that map has since been supplanted, plaintiffs are seeking a ruling that the state intentionally discriminated against minority voters. A finding of discrimination — if it stands up on appeal — would provide the basis both for court-ordered remedies and possibly as grounds to force Texas back into the pre-clearance provision of the Voting Rights Act.
That latter action is suddenly relevant because of the Supreme Court's ruling last year invalidating the portion of the VRA that had caused Texas to seek permission before making changes to its electoral procedure. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, as would be expected, calls attempts to put the state back under pre-clearance "completely unwarranted."
One thing remains certain: It will be a long time before there is a final decision. The San Antonio federal panel will address House and congressional maps from 2011 and 2013 over multiple hearings over several months. And no matter what the initial result, rounds of appeals should be expected.
Water Planners Focus on Bigger Texas, Not a Hotter One, by Neena Satija
Women Want State’s Help in Pelvic Mesh Fight, by Alexa Ura
Analysis: Not Bad, for a Lame Duck, by Ross Ramsey
Climate Scientists: Texas is Missing an Opportunity, by Neena Satija
Fikac: Abbott finds a chemical hazard, San Antonio Express-News
Officials face challenges in hiring leaders, calming waters at UT, Austin American-Statesman
Obama may hold fix to flood of immigrant kids, The Associated Press
Bergdahl Is Set to Resume Life on Active Duty, The New York Times
At some political risk, Dallas County judge sticks by Obama, The Dallas Morning News
Perry may be riding border issue back to national relevance, Houston Chronicle
Quote to Note
“It tastes the same as Wichita Falls water always has. It’s not really good tasting water … That’s why most people have always had bottled water in their homes.”
— Katherine Smith of Wichita Falls, on the city's introduction of treated wastewater to help deal with a historic drought
Today in TribTalk
Why Christians should care about climate change, by Katharine Hayhoe
Trib Events for the Calendar
• The Texas Tribune Festival runs from Sept. 19-21 at the University of Texas at Austin. The next round of participants has now been announced, a list headed by Wendy Davis, Rick Perry, John Cornyn and Atlanta, Ga., Mayor Kasim Reed. Act now!