On FOX, Michael Reagan and Peggy Noonan wrong on Texas redistricting


Wall Street Journal contributing editor Peggy Noonan and nationally syndicated conservative radio host Michael Reagan falsely defended the Texas redistricting plan engineered by U.S. House Majority leader Tom DeLay (R-TX) and ratified this year that resulted in Republicans gaining four seats in the U.S. House of Representatives in the November 2 election. Appearing separately on the November 3 edition of FOX News Channel's Hannity & Colmes, Noonan erroneously asserted that the Texas redistricting action was common, while Reagan falsely claimed that the Democrats always do the same thing when they are in power in California.

Noonan falsely suggested that the type of redistricting that occurred in Texas "always happens." But, as Reuters noted on October 18, DeLay's 2003 decision to redraw Texas -- after a court-drawn plan was adopted to conform with 2000 census data -- is very unusual: "Congressional districts usually are drawn once, early in the decade, right after the release of new U.S. census data." On May 14, 2003, Talking Points Memo blogger and journalist Joshua Micah Marshall noted that redistricting only immediately following a census has become a "firm political precedent."

Later on Hannity & Colmes, Democratic strategist Steve Murphy remarked that the Texas redistricting plan was a "scam." In response, Reagan incorrectly claimed: "The scam you're talking about goes on -- any time the Democrats control the state of California, as they do now, they do the same thing." Yet prior to the 2002 midterm elections, as the Associated Press reported on September 15, 2002, Democrats did not use redistricting to gain seats from Republican incumbents as Republicans did to Democrats in Texas in 2004: "When it came time for redistricting, they [California Democrats] decided to push for new boundaries that would allow them to hold onto their 32 seats and pick up the new seat awarded to California as a result of its population growth, rather than try to pick off more Republican incumbents."

As The Washington Post reported on October 19, the U.S. Supreme Court "order[ed] a three-judge district court to reexamine its January decision upholding the [Texas redistricting] plan," but "[t]he court's action will not affect the 2004 elections in Texas."

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Elections, Election Law
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