Supreme Court Will Take Up Texas Redistricting Case

AUSTIN -- The U.S. Supreme Court announced Friday that it will take up a case on whether Texas’ congressional and statehouse maps discriminate against minorities and need to be redrawn.The court made the decision after considering the case under conference for a second time on Friday. It had previously discussed the case in conference a week ago.At stake in the case are changes to Texas’ electoral maps that could buck the Republican status quo and create an opening for the growth of Democratic power in the state.The case came to the court as two separate lawsuits, one on the congressional maps and the other on the statehouse maps. But in an order released Friday, the Supreme Court condensed the two cases into one. The order did not set a hearing date. The legal battle began in 2011, when civil rights organizations and minority lawmakers accused the state’s leadership of drawing electoral maps that intentionally disadvantaged Hispanic and African-American voters. After a federal court found discriminatory problems with those maps, the Texas Legislature redrew the congressional and statehouse maps in 2013. Those maps are currently in use, but opponents say the discriminatory issues carried over from the original maps and added them to the legal challenge. In August, a three-judge federal panel in San Antonio agreed with the plaintiffs, finding in separate rulings that two congressional districts and nine statehouse districts across four counties were intentionally discriminatory and needed to be redrawn.Five districts in the Dallas-Fort Worth area were among those ordered redrawn in the statehouse map, including: districts 103, 104 and 105 in Dallas County and 90 and 93 in Tarrant County.The congressional districts ordered redrawn were District 35 in Central Texas, represented by Democrat Lloyd Doggett, and District 27 in Corpus Christi, represented by Blake Farenthold, who recently announced he will not seek re-election following sexual misconduct claims against him.The redrawing of these districts could create more districts where minorities make up a larger share of the population, which would give Democrats an edge in those areas. The redrawing of those districts could also have a ripple effect that impacts the shape of surrounding districts.The plaintiffs had wanted the districts redrawn in time for the 2018 midterm elections, but Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton appealed the case to the U.S. Supreme Court. Justice Sam Alito granted a stay in the case until the court could consider the matter further, effectively torpedoing any hopes of having the maps redrawn for this November’s elections.Both sides have said they relish an opportunity to argue their case in front of the Supreme Court. The Mexican American Legislative Caucus, one of the lead plaintiffs in the suit, hired voting rights expert Pamela Kaplan to present their case. Kaplan is the co-director of the Supreme Court Litigation Clinic at Stanford University.  Continue reading...

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