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Rotten Boroughs, Political Thickets, and Legislative Donnybrooks

Rotten Boroughs, Political Thickets, and Legislative Donnybrooks
Redistricting in Texas

Legislators, lawyers, community organizers, political historians, and political scientists offer a complete history of Texas redistricting during the past century—and the repercussions still felt from the map battles of the 1960s.

Series: Jack and Doris Smothers Endowment in Texas History, Life, and Culture, Number Thirty-seven

July 2013
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224 pages | 5.5 x 8.5 | 4 maps, 1 figure, 9 tables |

Every ten years, the Texas legislature redistricts itself and the state’s congressional districts in an attempt to ensure equality in representation. With a richly textured cultural fabric, Texas often experiences redistricting battles that are heated enough to gain national attention. Collecting a variety of voices, including legislators themselves, in addition to lawyers, community organizers, political historians, and political scientists, Rotten Boroughs, Political Thickets, and Legislative Donnybrooks delivers a multidimensional picture of how redistricting works in Texas today, and how the process evolved.

In addition to editor Gary Keith’s historical narrative, which emphasizes the aftermath of the Warren Court’s redistricting decisions, longtime litigators David Richards and J. D. Pauerstein describe the contentious lines drawn from the 1970s into the 2000s. Former state legislator and congressman Craig Washington provides an insider’s view, while redistricting attorney and grassroots organizer Jose Garza describes the repercussions for Mexican Americans in Texas. Balancing these essays with a quantitative perspective, political scientists Seth McKee and Mark McKenzie analyze the voting data for the 2000 decade to describe the outcomes of redistricting. The result is a timely tour that provides up-to-date context, particularly on the role of the Voting Rights Act in the twenty-first century. From local community engagement to the halls of the Capitol, this is the definitive portrait of redistricting and its repercussions for all Texans.

  • Preface
  • Acknowledgements
  • Acronyms
  • Prologue: Scope and Methods
  • Introduction. The Prequel: Unequal Representation (Gary A. Keith)
  • Chapter 1. Entering the Thicket: 1965 (Gary A. Keith)
  • Chapter 2. Legislating in the Thicket (Craig A. Washington)
  • Chapter 3. Litigating Texas Redistricting: A Democratic Lawyer's Experience (David R. Richards)
  • Chapter 4. Texas Redistricting: A Republican Lawyer's Perspective (J. D. Pauerstein)
  • Chapter 5. The Voting Rights Organizers (José Garza)
  • Chapter 6. Analyzing Redistricting Outcomes (Seth C. McKee and Mark J. McKenzie)
  • Conclusion. Redistricting Redux: 2011 and Beyond (Gary A. Keith)
  • Epilogue: Navigating the Brambles of the Political Thicket (Gary A. Keith)
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • About the Contributors
  • Index

Gary A. Keith is Associate Professor of Government and International Affairs at the University of the Incarnate Word. He has worked in the Texas legislature and for a statewide elected official. His previous books are Eckhardt: There Once Was a Congressman from Texas and Texas Politics and Government.


“A book that covers all bases, including the legal, political, and historical aspects of what the editor accurately describes as the ‘quintessential American game of politics.’ . . . The result is an interesting, even entertaining look at the process of redistricting and the way redistricting affects the everyday lives of Texans. It is the rare book that will appeal both to scholars and laypersons.”
Jerry Polinard, Professor of Political Science, University of Texas Pan American

“The book has particular value because of the essays by major actors on the Texas political/legal scene—Richards, Washington, and Garza. Simply to have their recollections and analyses is a valuable contribution to the study of Texas politics, [and] McKee and McKenzie’s paper convincingly shows the effects of redistricting on congressional electoral outcomes.”
Anthony Champagne, Professor, School of Economics, Politics, and Policy Science, University of Texas at Dallas


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