Justice Department Approves Redistricting Map

Supporters of the new Texas redistricting map have received a major boost. This afternoon the Justice Department gave its preliminary approval to that map. If final approval is given to the plan, it could lead to major changes in how Texas is represented in Congress. It would also have a dramatic impact here in East Texas.

Currently the state has 17 democrats and 15 republicans in the U.S. House. Under the new plan, republicans would almost certainly pick up several of those democratic seats.

Congressman Jim Turner of Crockett, who represents much of deep East Texas, would likely be out of a job because his current district is obliterated under the new map.

State lawmakers are supposed to draw new districts every 10 years, after the census comes out. But the 2001 legislature couldn't agree on a plan, so a federal court drew the current map we have.

Democrats said the republican plan to draw a new map this year was illegal. But the GOP said they were simply trying to draw districts that accurately reflect the state's voting pattern. It took three special sessions and millions of dollars to come up with the new map. State representative Jim McReynolds of Lufkin was one of the democrats who fled to Oklahoma in an effort to block redistricting. Tonight he told us the fight is not over yet.

A short while ago the East Texas News spoke with congressman Jim Turner. He said he was disappointed, but not surprised by the Justice Department's decision, since the redistricting map is a republican proposal, and the current administration in Washington is republican. Turner testified in Austin against the new map... Saying it was unfair to rural Texans and minorities. He's hopeful the 3-judge panel will rule against the map. But he says whichever way they decide, the losing side will appeal... And the U.S. Supreme Court will ultimately have the final say.