FLASHBACK: Texas Dems Fled State In 2003 To Block GOP Re-Redistricting Plan
As you've probably heard, Wisconsin state Democratic senators are playing hooky to create legislative gridlock and block governor Scott Walker's attempt to roll back public worker rights.
Republican Senate majority leader Scott Fitzgerald countered by
dispatching the Sergeant at Arms and the state police to round up
Democrats-on-the-lam and herd them back to the Capitol.
Except they're nowhere to be found -- and many of them have reportedly crossed state lines, leaving Fitzgerald powerless.
If you feel like you've seen this all before, it's because you have.
Back in May 2003, Republicans in Texas wanted to redo the 2001
redistricting plan to pick up an easy four seats in the House of
Representatives. Problem was, just like Fitzgerald and Walker in
Wisconsin, they needed a quorum in the legislature to get anything done.
So Texas House Democrats skipped town.
Republicans called out the state troopers and even the Texas Rangers
(the ones in law enforcement, not baseball) to hard them back to Austin.
But they'd all holed up in a hotel just across the border in Oklahoma,
and didn't return until they'd secured a promise that the redistricting
plan would be shelved.
That summer, Governor Rick Perry called a special legislative session
to renew the fight. For round two, 11 of the state's 12 Democratic
senators high-tailed it to Albuquerque for a month, frustrating Texas
Republicans once again. The standoff continued until one of them
returned to Texas, and the redistricting effort passed.
Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX) masterminded the whole
plan to pad his majority in Washington. His meddling turned the whole
ordeal into a political minefield. In May, he'd contacted the FAA to
help him locate the absentee Texas House Dems -- an illegal action that
got him in trouble with the House Ethics Committee. And in late 2005,
Justice Department lawyers concluded that the plan violated the Voting
Rights Act. They found that Republicans knew the effort would dilute
majority-minority districts, yet proceeded anyway to maximize GOP
representation in the U.S. House. Nonetheless, senior Justice officials
Ultimately the Supreme Court invalidated one of the districts, which
forced the state to redraw the lines in accordance with the ruling.
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