As multiple redistricting lawsuits work their way through state and federal court, an issue that has emerged in the last week is whether legislative staffers that helped draw the maps are fair game.
Plaintiffs in some of the suits have made clear they want to depose legislative staffers that were involved in the creation of the maps that were passed by Republicans in the Texas House and Senate with virtually no Democratic support. Last week, the key defendants (Gov. Rick Perry, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, House Speaker Joe Straus and Texas Secretary of State Hope Andrade) filed a motion requesting that those staffers' communications with lawmakers be considered privileged.
"Answering questions about the motives and purposes of legislators will invade the witness’s legislative privilege and jeopardize the legislative independence that it fosters," the motion reads.
This week, the Texas Democratic Party and Party Chairman Boyd Richie filed their response arguing that Texas' Republican leadership is trying to dishonestly invoke privilege on a "case by case basis."
"In other words, the State would selectively invoke the privilege with regard to witnesses with evidence adverse to the State's legal position. On the other hand, when the State presents a witness whose evidence is favorable, the State will waive the qualified privilege," the motion reads.
Democrats are arguing that the depositions of legislative staffers are crucial to proving that Republican-steered redistricting maps violate federal law.
"Although it is true claimants can offer evidence of the discriminatory effect of the redistricting plans, evidence of motivation can only be obtained from this discovery," the motion reads.