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Texas State Sens. Eckhardt, Gutierrez file lawsuit stating redistricting discussions can't happen until 2023

The Texas Constitution states that redistricting discussions must happen during the first regular legislative session following the publication of the U.S. Census.

AUSTIN, Texas — Texas State Sens. Roland Gutierrez and Sarah Eckhardt, along with the Tejano Democrats, have filed a lawsuit against Gov. Greg Abbott and Jose A. Esparaza, Texas' acting secretary of state. The lawsuit states that legislative redistricting cannot be considered this year because the Texas Constitution requires such consideration to be done during a regular session of the Texas Legislature.

Abbott has stated his intention to call a special session so that lawmakers can consider redistricting, but the plaintiffs say doing so goes against the state constitution.

The lawsuit states that it is challenging the existing maps for the Texas House and Senate because "they violate the 14th Amendment's 'one person, one vote' principle." The lawsuit states that the current maps must be reapportioned before the 2022 election cycle, but they cannot be because "as a matter of Texas constitutional law, the Legislature cannot reapportion until the first regular session after the census, which does not convene until January 2023."

Because of that, the lawsuit states that for the 2022 election cycle, interim maps must be created by the court. 

"The Texas Constitution is as clear as it can be: first, the Census is published, then Legislature must consider apportionment in the regular session following publication," State Sen. Gutierrez said in a press release. "The Governor decided unilaterally that he can ignore the Texas Constitution any time it is convenient, but when it comes to how our legislative districts will look for the next ten years, we’re putting out foot down."

Article III, Section 28 of the Texas Constitution states that "[t]he Legislature shall, at its first regular session after the publication of each United States decennial census, apportion the state into senatorial and representative districts."

The results of the most recent census were delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and were published on Aug. 12 – 73 days after the 87th legislative session ended.

WATCH: State demographer explains redistricting


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