Texas Politics - The Legislative Branch
  1. Tradition and Modernity
  2. Looking Ahead
  1. Sessions
  2. Special Sessions
  3. Bicameral Structure
  4. Membership
  5. Compensation
  6. Terms of Office
  1. Formal
  2. Informal
  3. Party
  4. Gender, Race, Ethnicity
  5. Incumbency
  6. Age and Occupation
  1. Historical Perspective
Powers and Immunities
  1. Bills
  2. Resolutions
  3. Administrative Powers
  4. Investigative, Impeachment
  5. Immunities
Presiding Officers and Powers
  1. Senate Pres./Lt. Governor
  2. Speaker of the House
  3. Pro Tempore Positions
  1. Committees
  2. System Impact
How a Bill Becomes a Law
  1. Intro, Referral
  2. Committee Action
  3. Floor Action
  4. Conference Committee
  5. Governor's Desk
Citizens Legislative Power
  1. Constitutional Amendments
  2. Initiative and Referendum
10  Conclusions
  1. Reforms
  2. Citizen Participation
  1. Print-friendly format
  2. Key words and phrases
  3. Multimedia resources
  4. Lt. Governors table
  5. Speakers table
Redistricting Texas style: a case study Redistricting Texas style: a case study
The rules matter: redistricting and civil rights Redistricting and civil rights
Methods for manipulating district lines Methods for manipulating district lines
communities of interest
minority vote concentration
minority vote dilution
4.1    Redistricting in Historical Perspective

The redistricting process in Texas has produced increasingly intense negotiations and conflicts in recent decades as the Republican Party has gained enough support to challenge the Democratic Party's historical monopoly in the state. These struggles over redistricting have been compounded by profound demographic changes – considerable population growth, and high rates of urbanization and immigration – in recent Texas experience. Partisan conflict over redistricting culminated in the intensely politicized process during the 78th Legislature in 2003, when the leadership of the new Republican majority in the legislature revisited the redistricting process and passed a plan supplanting the 2001 plan that had been implemented by the courts.

Before the 1960s the pace of demographic change in the Lone Star state was relatively slow. Democrats dominated the political system while African Americans and other minorities were widely excluded. This meant that the social and political structure of legislative districts changed very little or were of little consequence since many working class individuals, especially African Americans and Latinos, were shut out.

Changes made by both Congress and the courts in the application of voting rights to the drawing of district lines sought to ensure minority representation. Some of these new rules had unintended consequences, as this chapter's feature The Rules Matter: Redistricting and Civil Rights illustrates.

Several demographic trends have increased the stakes of redistricting. The process of urbanization in the post-World War II period caused profound shifts away from the countryside (which had dominated the political system) to the cities. Urbanization gave way to a long and ongoing process of suburbanization, enabled in part by the interstate highway system, which was begun during the Eisenhower Administration in the 1950s. In the last couple of decades, suburbanization gave us "soccer-moms" and "office-park dads" as voting blocs increasingly targeted by political campaigns. Manipulating how district lines are drawn in relation to these constituencies has become a high-contact sport played in the arena of state politics.

The best way to understand the dynamics of this process is to look closely at a particular district that partisans have fought over in recent years. This chapter's feature Redistricting Texas Style focuses on Texas's U.S. House District 24, in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area, in the context of the recent history of redistricting in the state.

Texas Politics:
© 2006, Liberal Arts Instructional Technology Services
University of Texas at Austin