Many residents are asking, "Will the redistricting problems ever be solved?," as the Supreme Court takes a hard look at the state's Congressional Redistricting Plan.
The controversy has the elements of questionable politics, leaks to the press, and determined representatives. One of those representatives is State Representative Jim McReynolds, who has fought hard against the re-drawn lines. "We did it for about two years, and we didn't finally finish the job until 2003," said McReynolds, referring to the re-drawing of Congressional District lines.
It was a plan orchestrated by former U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay. It was a map McReynolds didn't like because, to him, it ignored the principal of the Federal Voting Rights Act. "It's for minorities to see that they have an influence in determining who their elected officials are going to be," added McReynolds.
Little did voters know that Justice Department lawyers objected to the plan, too. They let appointed department officials know their concerns about diluting minority voter strength. However, the plan was approved anyway. "That overrule was recently leaked to the press - I think to the Washington Post - and we all heard about that and, in fact, the Supreme Court heard about it too, and the Supreme Court said, 'We want to hear this case,'" McReynolds commented.
Justices are expected to take up the challenge in March. If the plan is upheld, the state legislature will do nothing. If the court rules the plan is unconstitutional, McReynolds says he'll be ready to roll up his sleeves and fight for minorities and rural East Texas.
"I'm not a weenie," McReynolds said. "I was elected to represent my people. I will go down there and fuss and fight. I stood at the microphone, probably, 15 times." That's something he says he'll do over again if it means equal representation in Washington.