With election season in full swing and many states running tight races, voting districts are primed to be a key factor in determining control of power positions. Texas is already in the crossfire as a unanimous court rejected the lines drawn by the Republican-controlled legislature as discriminatory towards Latino/Hispanic and Black/African-American citizens and found the plan in violation of the Voting Rights Act. The ruling is unlikely to effect the upcoming elections: according to the Huffington Post's roundup, "voters in Texas this November will use interim political maps drawn last year by a different three-judge panel in San Antonio." 2014, however, is a different story with a heated fight likely ahead and possible appeal to the Supreme Court.
Apart from the ruling itself, the path to the redistricting is itself interesting. Because of the state's history of discrimination, the Voting Rights Act requires Texas to get approval from the Department of Justice before making changes to its districts. But state attorneys took a different route, bypassing the Justice Department and going before a federal three-judge panel to get clearance. Would following the normal procedure really have been worse? Did Texas' attorneys make the 'right' risk/reward calculation?