Keep this in mind: Those five seats they picked up? Those were the ONLY gains made in the House in 2004 by Republicans. There's your motive and an indication of the importance/desperation. Despite all the bluster of ass-kicking mandates, the Republicans had to cheat to gain the seats they did.
So, the Texas Repubs, of course, knew the plan was illegal, but they didn't care—ends justify means, and laws were made to be broken and all. But, they still first had to run their
Justice Department lawyers concluded that the landmark Texas congressional redistricting plan spearheaded by Rep. Tom DeLay (R) violated the Voting Rights Act, according to a previously undisclosed memo obtained by The Washington Post. [...] The memo, unanimously endorsed by six lawyers and two analysts in the department's voting section, said the redistricting plan illegally diluted black and Hispanic voting power in two congressional districts.
Not only did the DOJ rule the plan illegal, but it found that the Texas legislature knew it was discriminatory and had proceeded anyway. End of story, right? Not quite. Those DOJ lawyers? They're just career experts on election law and civil rights, why should they gum up a perfectly good election heist?
...senior officials overruled them and approved the plan.
[...] The 73-page memo, dated Dec. 12, 2003, has been kept under tight wraps for two years. Lawyers who worked on the case were subjected to an unusual gag rule.
[...] a longtime Justice Department lawyer... said it was "highly unusual" for political appointees to overrule a unanimous finding such as the one in the Texas case.
Well, it used to be. Bush political appointees routinely overrule the findings of their own agencies when it gets results it doesn't like. Just ask the FDA.
Well, surely this would be a big story...Not so much. In classic Bush style, the DoJ issued the order overruling its political appointees on the Friday before Christmas 2003, when no one would pay attention.
Not to worry, the Democrats could appeal, right? Get their day in Court?
[Houston Chronicle]: The Democrats want a copy of the memorandum written by the Voting Section of the department's Civil Rights Division in time to present it today in federal court in Austin. A three-judge panel is hearing final arguments in a lawsuit challenging the new congressional plan, which Republicans want to use in the 2004 elections.
"It is vital that the public and the three-judge panel have access to the Voting Section's recommendation before the start of closing arguments," said a statement issued by the delegation.
The documents were not released, the DoJ lawyers were gagged, and the three-judge panel (2 Republicans and one Democrat) voted 2-1 to uphold the plan.
When the Democrats appealed to the Supreme Court in January for a stay of the revised map, it was Scalia who declined an emergency request and decided the Court would not intervene.
Let's not forget that the whole redistricting was not supposed to happen until the next census, or that DeLay had the Dept. of Homeland Security track down out of state Democrats to force the vote, and broke the law to raise the money for this fiasco in the first place (his current indictment). Plus, their insurance policy was probably in the form of Diebold voting machines.
I'm so disgusted and angry I'm not even sure if i can care anymore...
[h/t kos and special thanks to this comment in that thread.]