Supreme Court puts redrawing of Texas political maps on hold

Supreme Court blocks rulings forcing Texas to redraw districts

Supreme Court blocks rulings forcing Texas to redraw districts

A divided Supreme Court is blocking lower court rulings that ordered Texas to redraw some congressional and legislative districts.

But the Supreme Court's 5-4 decision to halt the creation of new electoral maps signals that the conservative majority is skeptical of the lower courts' discrimination findings and likely to uphold the maps.

The ruling is a victory - for now - for Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who had argued that the lower court opinion would have thrown "the electoral process in disarray" because districts must be determined by October 1. But it usually takes the court until June to submit a decision, especially one involving a tangled, years-long battle over gerrymandering in Texas. Even so, in asking for postponements, state officials told the Supreme Court that the trial court's actions amounted to binding orders to move ahead on drawing new replacements for the districts where it had found intentional bias against Latino or black voters.

The U.S. Supreme Court has dealt a serious setback to the efforts toward reconfiguring Texas' congressional district map before next year's elections.

The 5-to-4 ruling nearly surely means the 2018 elections will be conducted in the disputed congressional and legislative districts. "I have always maintained that the Supreme Court would have the final say on local congressional district lines, and tonight the Court just said it", he wrote. Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan would have denied the stay. Each of the maps at issue tended to favor the election chances of Republican lawmakers. In some instances, the court pointed out, they rejiggered lines to "to ensure Anglo control" of legislative districts.

The congressional districts in question are CD-27 in Nueces County, where Hispanic voters were "intentionally deprived of their opportunity to elect a candidate of their choice", and CD-35 in Central Texas, which was deemed illegally drawn because lawmakers used race as the predominant factor in deciding its boundaries.

The decision means that the disputed districts will likely be used for the 2018 midterm elections.

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