Friday, December 02, 2005

How Democracy Works: A Lesson For The Innocents

Remember the Texas redistricting debacle? Yes, the one that gave the Republicans five more representatives. This is how it came about:

Justice Department lawyers concluded that the landmark Texas congressional redistricting plan spearheaded by Representative Tom DeLay, Republican of Texas, violated the Voting Rights Act, according to a previously undisclosed memo obtained by the Washington Post. But senior officials overruled them and approved the plan.

The memo, unanimously endorsed by six lawyers and two analysts in the department's voting section, said the redistricting plan illegally diluted black and Hispanic voting power in two congressional districts. It also said the plan eliminated several other districts in which minorities had a substantial, though not necessarily decisive, influence in elections.

''The State of Texas has not met its burden in showing that the proposed congressional redistricting plan does not have a discriminatory effect," the memo concluded.

The memo also found that Republican lawmakers and state officials who helped craft the proposal were aware it posed a high risk of being ruled discriminatory compared with other options.

But the Texas Legislature proceeded with the new map anyway because it would maximize the number of Republican federal lawmakers in the state, the memo said. The redistricting was approved in 2003, and Texas Republicans gained five seats in the US House in the 2004 elections, solidifying GOP control of Congress.

Are we going to see this principle inserted into the text books of the future? What will we tell the children?