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Texas Senate and Texas House Redistricting

The regular session of the 72nd Legislature passed bills redrawing senate and house district boundaries in the 1991 regular session, which were signed by the governor.

During 1991, suits were filed in state district court and federal district court asserting various voting rights violations against the adopted senate and house redistricting plans. After a series of state and federal court actions and the adoption of new house and senate plans in a January 1992 special session, the 1992 house and senate elections were ultimately conducted under federal court-ordered plans that changed 30 of the 31 senate districts and 37 of the 150 house districts that had been adopted by the legislature during the 1991 regular session.

The 1994 elections were held under districts enacted by the legislature in the January 1992 special session. The senate districts were significantly different from the court-ordered districts used for the 1992 election. The legislature's house districts differed only slightly from the 1992 court-ordered districts.

On January 25, 1995, Thomas v. Bush was filed in federal court challenging 13 senate districts and 54 house districts as unconstitutionally racially gerrymandered. On September 15, 1995, the court ordered an agreed settlement under which eight senate districts and 36 house districts were changed to address the alleged gerrymanders, the staggered senate terms drawn by lot in January 1993 were allowed to remain in effect, and the one-year prior residency requirement was waived for the changed districts so that a candidate could run either in the same numbered district in which the candidate resided under the prior plan or in the new district in which the candidate resided. During the 1997 regular session, the Texas Legislature enacted without change the senate districts approved in the 1995 Thomas v. Bush settlement. That plan was subsequently used for the 1998 elections. The legislature also enacted two bills affecting state house districts, one which approved the state house districts in the 1995 Thomas v. Bush settlement with additional minor changes to six districts, and the other which made minor changes to eight other house districts. The U.S. Department of Justice precleared the changes to the house districts, and the house plan incorporating those changes was used for the 1998 elections. Court actions in the summer of 1997 effectively brought an end to required action by the legislature on 1991 redistricting.

Congressional Redistricting

Under the 1990 federal census, Texas was apportioned three new congressional districts, for a total of 30. The 72nd Legislature adjourned in May 1991 without adopting a congressional plan during the regular session, but did enact a new plan in the 2nd Called Session in August.

During early 1991, suits were filed in state district court and federal district court asserting various voting rights violations against the former unmodified congressional districts. After the August special session and a number of legal actions, the 1992 congressional district elections were held under the plan enacted by the legislature in the August special session.

On January 26, 1994, suit was filed in federal district court in Houston challenging the Texas congressional districts as unconstitutionally racially gerrymandered under the framework of the recent U.S. Supreme Court cases Shaw v. Reno and Hays v. Louisiana. In the summer of 1994, the court held three of the districts unconstitutional. The state appealed the case to the U.S. Supreme Court and proceeded to conduct the 1996 primaries under the state's plan. In June 1996, the supreme court upheld the district court's decision. The district court voided the results of the 1996 primary elections in 13 of the state's 30 congressional districts and ordered a special election to be held in those 13 districts concurrent with the November 1996 general election using an interim plan drawn by the court. The district court gave the legislature until June 30, 1997, to enact a permanent plan, but the 75th Legislature did not adopt a plan within that time. On September 15, 1997, the court dismissed all pending motions and ordered the court-drawn plan into effect for the 1998 congressional elections.

State Board of Education Redistricting

The 72nd Legislature adjourned in May 1991 without adopting a State Board of Education (SBOE) redistricting plan in the regular session, but enacted a new plan in the 2nd Called Session in August 1991.

During 1991, suits were filed in state district court and federal district court asserting various voting rights violations against the former unmodified SBOE districts. After the August special session and a number of legal actions, the 1992 SBOE elections were held under the plan enacted by the legislature in the August special session.

The Texas Legislative Council, a nonpartisan legislative service agency, provides technical and legal support to the Texas legislature for redistricting.