Published: Wed, September 13, 2017
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Redrawing Texas Voting Maps Put On Hold; Texans Turn To Alternative Medicine

Redrawing Texas Voting Maps Put On Hold; Texans Turn To Alternative Medicine

Over the objections of four liberal justices, the Supreme Court ruled Tuesday night that Texas does not immediately have to redraw electoral districts that a lower court found diminished the influence of minority voters. In two brief rulings issued late Tuesday, the court's newly conservative majority sided with Justice Samuel Alito, who had ordered a preliminary pause on these dual rulings last week. The lower court had given the Texas governor three days to decide whether to call a special legislative session and said the state should be ready start work on redrawing the districts by September 5.

The decision means Texas nearly certainly will hold elections next year in districts that were struck down as racially discriminatory. 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 orders - the one on congressional districting is here, the one on redrawing districts for the lower chamber of the state legislature is here - contained no explanation for blocking the trial courts' decisions.

The Texas court's three-judge panel found that the 27th and 35th districts had been unfairly drawn to disadvantage the area's large Hispanic population.

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The state has been in the midst of an extraordinary losing streak in federal courts over the way it conducts elections. But it usually takes the court until June to submit a decision, especially one involving a tangled, years-long battle over gerrymandering in Texas.

In August, a federal court in Texas struck down two Republican-drawn congressional districts saying they were discriminatory and ordering new maps to be drawn ahead of elections in 2018.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton called the rulings "outrageous" and "astonishing". The next chance the state will likely have to draw these new maps will be before 2020 elections. In some instances, the court pointed out, they rejiggered lines to "to ensure Anglo control" of legislative districts.

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

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