Published: Wed, April 25, 2018
Global | By Marsha Munoz

Texas Congressional Map Comes Under Supreme Court Scrutiny

Texas Congressional Map Comes Under Supreme Court Scrutiny

A panel of federal judges in San Antonio ruled a year ago that some districts on the state's map intentionally discriminate against minority voters.

Justice Stephen Breyer anxious that the Supreme Court would have to hear tens of thousands of appeals, for every time a court requests a party's appearance in front of it.

Several states' attorneys general have filed amicus briefs on behalf of Texas. "Now, if we're going to call that a grant of an injunction, we're going to hear 50,000 appeals from however many three-judge courts there are". In nine state legislative districts and two Congressional districts, the lines were drawn in such a way as to discriminate against minority voters, according to the lower court.

Solicitor General Keller argued this morning that it would be absurd to hold that a court could find its own map tainted by racially discriminatory intent.

The Voting Rights Act also set up the practice of preclearance, a process in which jurisdictions with a history of discriminatory voting practices must gain federal approval to change voting practices or adopt new legislative maps.

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"In 2012, a 9-0 U.S. Supreme Court ordered the U.S. District Court in San Antonio to draw interim maps "that do not violate the Constitution or the Voting Rights Act.' The Supreme Court repeated that command to draw lawful maps six times in its opinion". What were considered temporary maps by the court were made permanent by Texas lawmakers in 2013.

The United States Supreme Court will hear a case this week that could potentially change who represents Texans in Congress and the state legislature.

"If you're the Attorney General or - or the - the legislature in Texas and you want to take your best shot at a plan that will be accepted by the district court, wouldn't you take the plan that the district court drafted?"

The San Antonio panel has so far sided with the plaintiffs in rulings that found fault with both the 2011 and 2013 maps. The court proceedings that would follow that decision would nearly certainly set up a return trip to Washington before the case is eventually resolved.

At issue are two US congressional and nine state legislative districts.

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While it's possible the Court could order new maps be put in place in time for the general election, the timing of case makes it unlikely, according to the plaintiffs. However, attorneys for Texas say they appealed to the High Court because the legal challenge at the lower court would prevent the state from using the maps in the 2018 elections. Justice Kagan asked if that would still be an issue if the court had given Texas three weeks.

"You have instances where the courts have said this is some intentional discrimination or there's unconstitutional gerrymandering", Rodriguez said in an interview on "State of Texas".

Hicks argued that in 2013 Texas knew, based on the 2012 elections, that the interim map had succeeded in what the 2011 map had intended.

"Texas is not insane", Hicks said, in knowing the same thing - an undermining of minority votes - would happen with the 2011 map and the 2013 map. He also insisted the Legislature was doing its best to end a lengthy round of litigation.

It doesn't matter that Texas wanted to end the litigation, Riggs said.

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If the Supreme Court sides with Texas, that gambit may prove to have been successful.

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