Judges Redraw Texas Districts, Set New Elections Action by Panel Reflects Ruling against Boundaries Based on Race

Article excerpt

A panel of federal judges Tuesday redrew the congressional map of Texas, threw out the results of primaries in 13 of the state's 30 House districts and ordered new elections.

The redistricting was done to conform to recent U.S. Supreme Court rulings outlawing the drawing of districts primarily on the basis of race.

Incumbents in the 13 districts include House Majority Leader Dick Armey, his deputy Tom DeLay, and Ways and Means Committee chairman Bill Archer. The three powerful Republicans are in districts that probably will continue to be GOP-dominated.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June that the Texas Legislature improperly drew two districts in Houston and one in Dallas to create a majority of voters who were black or Hispanic.

A panel of three federal judges decided that redrawing the unconstitutional districts could not wait until the Legislature meets next year, so the judges redrew the lines themselves.

Correcting the three illegal districts meant adjusting surrounding districts: the new map affects seven districts in the Houston area and six around Dallas, accounting for a third of Texas' 9.7 million registered voters.

"Relatively few voters have been moved into new or unfamiliar districts," the judges wrote.

Still, candidates and incumbents who won primaries in March may suddenly find themselves facing one or more rivals - some from their own party. Those rivals feel the new district boundaries give them a chance. …