The Texas attorney general asked the Supreme Court on Monday to stop a federal court from implementing temporary legislative redistricting maps in Texas that could increase minority representation in the state House.
Attorney General Greg Abbott filed the request with the high court as candidates began to file for office under the new, court-drawn maps. A stay could shake up next year's elections, possibly even pushing the March primary back to May.
"Obviously, we're hoping to hear as soon as possible since the filing period opened today," said Lauren Bean, a spokeswoman for Abbott. "The sooner the better so there's continuity and there aren't a bunch of questions. We want clarity for the voters and for candidates that are beginning to file for office."
The court-drawn map was drafted by a panel of federal judges in San Antonio after minority groups challenged the original plan passed by the GOP-led Legislature.
The map drawn by the San Antonio-based federal court could lead to greater minority representation and give Democrats a chance to add as many as a dozen seats in the Legislature. Abbott and other Republican leaders have denied that any of the Legislature's redistricting maps would diminish minority voting power.
The candidate filing period, which had been scheduled to open Nov. 12, had already been delayed and condensed to accommodate the ongoing litigation. Monday was the first day candidates could file for office.
In the request for an emergency stay, Abbott's office suggested the primary dates be delayed to accommodate the appeal. Attorneys for the state said primary elections for the affected races could be held on a date in May that is already scheduled as a runoff election date.
The San Antonio court put new guidelines in place earlier this month so county election officials and would-be candidates could prepare for the March 6 primary amid the legal imbroglio.
In drawing the new maps, the San Antonio court said the legislative and congressional maps drawn by the Legislature earlier this year couldn't be implemented under the Voting Rights Act until they are cleared by a court in Washington. But Abbott's office argued that the legislative-drawn maps should be put in place until the legal fight is resolved.