Page 6


, CITY AND COUNTRY IN TEXAS Large Counties Restricted by Constitution \(Continued From Page the job done. Although the Texas Constitution calls for redistricting after each federal census, this was ignored in 1930 and 1940 while the state, preoccupied with fighting its way through the Great Depression and the Second World War and !soothed by such rural-oriented administrators as Miriam Ferguson and Nappy O’Daniel, heard few outcries from the urban areas. The growth effect of the War on Texas cities was so phenomenal, however, that city dwellers could no longer abide the grossly disproportionate representation they had, and in 1947 the legislature agreed. It passed a constitutional amendment requiring the legislation to reapportion t h e state after each census, with the provision that if the legislature failed to do so, a special redistricting board–composed of the lieutenant governor, the speaker, the attorney general, the comptroller, and the land office commissioner would be set up. This amendment was approved by popular vote in 1948, effective in 1951. This marked the great watershed in Texas redistricting practices, but it left much still undone. For one thing, the 1951 amendment does not cover congressional e-districting. Thus, the last legislature re-districted for the House and Senate \(though only nominothing to provide for the new congressman Texas’ population growth permitted, and Texans had to settle for a congressmana t-large. There are two major hobbles en more accurate representation in Texas. The 1936 “Moffett amendment” limits the big cities to seven representatives if the population is under 700,000, and to one representative per 100,603 above this figure. Second, the state .constitution prohibits more than one state senator from a . single county. Texas Study Wendell M. Bedichek, in a cornprehensive study of legislative reapportionment for the Institute cf Public Affairs at the University of Texas earlier this year 41 percent of the state’s voting population can elect a majority of the Texas House of Representatives, 31 percent can elect a majority of the state Senate, and 38.5 percent can elect a majority of Texas’ 22 districted seats to the U.S. Congress. After his broad-ranging survey, Bedichek reached the conclusion that the new apportionment plan adopted by the 1961 legislature slightly improved urban underrepresentation in the Texas lower house, but that electoral inequity was “accentuated” as a result of redistricting In the state Senate. The Institute of Public Affairs study also showed: Texas population increased by 24.2 percent from 1950 to 1960. Urban population increased by 46.8 percent, however, while rural population declined by 16.7 percent. The Texas constitutional lim itation of no more than one senator for any one county results in the extreme inequity of one senator to represent almost 1.3 million people, contrasted with District 16 in West. Texas having one senator to represent only 147,500 people. 40 The 16 Texas counties with populations exceed ing 1\(10,000 account for 56.8 percent of the total population, but have only 33.2 percent representatiOn in. the Senate. Based on the present average Harris County would have 19 of the state’s 150 representatives rather than its present 12, and Dallas would have 15 instead of 9. Candidates’ Views Not unexpectedly, candidates in the current governor’s race are using the rural-urban issue in their campaigns. John Connally told a Dallas audience that if he is elected he will do all he can to see that the legislature is shifted from the hands of country lawmakers. Atty. Gen. Will Wilson, who strongly opposes most of Connally’s platform, immediately counter-attacked. Metropolitan centers, he said last week, must not gain power “at the expense of our smaller counties and rural areas. There are 2.8 million people living in the five cities in Texas with more than a quarter of a million people.” Wilson, contacted this week in his role as state’s attorney, said: “As attorney general and as a states’ righter, I think they should let us solve our own problems, but I realize the state government does have to meet the test of the federal constitution.” Wilson said the Court decision might lead to an attack on the “Moffett amendment” limiting the number of representatives to the lower house from urban counties. But he is not too concerned, he said, about the one-senator limit per county. Most state constitutions, Wilson argued, place limitations on their upper houses. This view has often been opposed by liberals, who complain that gerrymandering contributes to what they hold to be the regressive character of the Senate. ‘Fair Provision’ Among other gubernatorial candidates, Gov. Price Daniel commented: “I favor equitable reprePentation for our growing urban areas, but I believe there also must be some practical limitation on the size of the legislature.” Marshall Formby, conservative Democrat, said he favors the present constitutional limit on House epresentaton “because as the state continues to grow in population, the provision now in effect will be fair.” Don Yarborough, Houston liberal, said that stacking the legislature “for any special group or geographical area does not produce good government. Fair-minded Texans have always upheld the principle that House representation shoud be based on population.” GOP candidate Jack Cox said he sees the justice of giving urban areas fairer representation, and Roy Whittenburg, Cox’s GOP opponent, said he needs to study the case before commenting. Gen. Edwin Walker has yet to make a statement. The general notion that the congressman-at-large elected this year will seTo only one term before his office is eliminated by the redistricting of the next legislaturea notion apparently shared by the veteran politicians who left the field to relatively unknown candidates is not shared by C. W. Pearcy Jr., chairman of the House committee on congressional and legislative districts. Pearcy told the Observer he would not be surprise if the next legislature again bypassed this iFsue. He doubts that the Supreme Court ruling will stampede the lawmakers into action. “When you get into congressional re-districting,” he said by phone from his office in Temple,. “you get into a lot of politics.” In this instance, the “lot of politics” centers around Dallas. By numerical logic, Dallasthe largest single-count congressional district in Texas and the third largest in the nation \(the others being, in order, San Diego and county to benefit from any new congressional shuffle. But as Pearcy and others have pointed out, a Democratic legislatureunder pressure all the way down from Washington to its own political consciencesis not eager to give Dallas a chance to elect a stable-mate for Cong. Bruce Alger, Dallas’s voice in Congress and the only Republican there from Texas. If Alger is re-elected, Pearcy and Bedichek, among others, predict one of the hottest fights in , I.1 9……….yeer,s1F –“-“‘”A1=51:30=eM recent years over a representational question. Alternatives to giving the congressional seat to Dallas are to give it to Bexar County, the second most poorly represented Texas district in Confrom scratch and re-district the entire state. If this is done, the famous immunity of District 4 may come to an end. This is the late Sam Rayburn’s old district. And though it was the smallest congressional district in the state and the sixth smallest in the nation, such was Rayburn’s power, that was inviolate. Such courtesies from the Texas legislature were not unknown elsewhere in the state. For example, in the early 1930’s, when the legislature had locked horns over congressional re-districting, all sides agreed that no matter what else happened, John Garner’s district must be safeguarded. He was already making a strong bid for the speakership of the House of Representatives, and the Texas legislature didn’t want to damage his chances for re-election. But Ray Roberts, recently elected to fill Rayburn’s seat, holds no such power over the Texas legislature. Coincidentally, he does not look kindly on the Supreme Court ruling. He said in Washington that it was just “another example of the court’s extension of jurisdiction over all the affairs of the states,” and he predicted “endless intervention” by federal courts in re-districting disputes. This complaint, of “interference in state’s rights,” was the commonest heard from critics. Cong. Joe Kilgore of McAllen echoed Roberts, as did Cong. Walter Rogers of Pampa and Cong. John Dowdy of Athens. All are conservatives. The Dallas News, editorially, joined them in an oblique fashion. Although conceding that one-sided apportionment favoring the rural areas is “one of the most vicious malignancies in American government,” the News felt the court’s “active interference in a matter heretofore considered as the exclusive right of each state is gravely disturbing.” The Fort Worth Star-Telegram agreed, saying that although the imbalance should be corrected, on a long-term basis the shift of power to the cities would be bad because “Almost inevitably that change will be in the direction of increased liberalism. . . . The cities are the centers of liberalism. . . . The cities are also more easily controlled by political machines than the rural areas.” Loss of Prestige The three Houston papers were not quite so disheartened. The Chronicle said that the Court “has read a lesson to the Tennessee legislature and to other legislatures similarly inclined. They can apportion as they like and when they like. But they can no longer avoid the consequencies.” Commented the Post: “The fact that urban voters can now go into federal court to seek relief should have a strong influence in inducing rural-dominated legislatures to act toward permitting more equitable legislation, even though it may involve for the legislators themselves a loss of prestige and power and may mean, in some cases, their political demise.” The Houston Press, a ScrippsHoward paper, was more outspoken. It called the ruling “a clawing decision in favor of the people and against the politicians brought on by stalling or even worse shenanigans. Some will label this ‘an invasion of states’ rights.’ Poppycock. The final power to reapportion is still vested in the legislatures. The only difference is the citizen-voters now 1-now they have the legal right to compel action when their rights are ignored . . .” Roy Evans, secretary-treasurer of the state AFL-CIO, couldn’t agree with the Dallas News and Star-Telegram’s reasoning, pointing out that some of labor’s strongest support is in the rural areas. Dallas has not in recent times elected a pro-labor lawmaker to the Texas legislature, and by any measure Houston is now represented five to three against labor in the House. Pearcy, however, is inclined to go along with the theory that as the cities assume more power in the legislature, the legislature will have a more liberal complexion, and Bedichek agrees that as urban affairs become more complex and cities must increasingly rely on federal help, the urban attitude will be more liberal. Pearcy sees the control of the legislature to be fairly evenly balanced at the present time, but teetering toward the urban side. He ticked it off: “Harris County 12, Dallas nine, Tarrant seven, Bexar seven, El Paso five, Corpus Christi four, Amarillo three that’s 47, and anytime you’ve got a one-third block, you’ve darn near got control,” he said. The Rural View Do rural members fear this shift? “Yes, you find the rural group fearing control by five or six metropolitan areas,” he said. “And this Supreme Court decision will bring the fear to a head.” On the other hand, Pearcy does not think the representatives from the other urban areas are personally as worked up over the imbalance of representation as they make out to be. “Naturally the urban boys have to take a contrary view on it whether they want to or not,” he said. He pointed out that the problem is a contained one, with the Texas constitution limiting the House to 150 members; thus, urban strength can increase only at the price of rural weakness. Pearcy said his committee actually “did a. real good job of redistricting” the House. “In effect, we created new districts in urban areas giving Harris fotir more epresentatives, Dallas two more, the South Texas area one, El Paso one more, Lubbock another, Amarillo another, and Abilene another, and created another district in the Midland-Odessa area. Those were the major points of population increase.” Some critics hold that if Harris County, for example, had really got everything it deserved proportionate to its population, it would have got not just four more. but 11 more. While it is true that the four largest population centers in the state contain 35.7 percent of the state’s total 1960 population and have only 23.4 percent of the House strength, on a wider perspective the urban-rural imbalance is less noticeable. On a basis of 29 metropolitan counties, the 63.4 percent of the state’s population living in urban areas has 53.3 percent of the House strength, which, as Bedichek put it, “really isn’t too bad.” While there are no cases currently pending in this state, Texas has in recent years seen the redistricting fuss joggled through the courts before. The best known case in recent months was that of Giles E. Miller, Dallas Republican now running for congressmanat-large, who was so irritated because the new congressional seat didn’t fall to his hometown that he filed a petition with the Texas Supreme Court asking for a writ of mandamus to force the state to redistrict. In his effort to show something amiss, he pointed out that “the population of the 5th Congressionin excess of 950,000,” which he interpreted as meaning that “all Dallas County citizens exceed by more than two and one-quarter