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Court blocks redrawing Texas maps

Court blocks redrawing Texas maps”

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

On a 5-4 vote, with the court's conservatives in the majority and the liberal justices dissenting, the court in a brief order blocked two different lower court decisions that found fault with both congressional districts and state legislative districts drawn by the Republican-controlled state legislature.

The court's four liberal justices, Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor, would have allowed the redrawing of the affected districts.

The court's intervention was a victory for Texas Republicans, who had drawn the districts. You can read a summary of the many twists and turns in this case, as well as the legal issues before the Supreme Court, here.

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

Chad Dunn, the Texas Democratic Party's general counsel, said he believes the evidence of discriminatory intent is so strong, the Supreme Court will agree.

The development could upend efforts to get a new map in place ahead of the 2018 elections. The high court could also choose to delay the March primary elections.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who sought the stay, did not return a request for comment. The state's current maps - adopted by Legislature after judges in 2012 tweaked boundaries drawn following the 2010 USA census - have been used during the past three election cycles. New districts would likely have increased the chances for Democrats and minorities to capture them.

A three-judge panel in San Antonio ruled last month that the state's congressional and state House maps needed to be redrawn to address voting rights violations.

Over the latter part of the summer, federal judges in four separate cases ruled that the Texas Legislature discriminated against minorities in drawing congressional and legislative districts, setting ID requirements for voters and even regulating who can assist voters for whom English is not their first language.

The state has been in the midst of an extraordinary losing streak in federal courts over the way it conducts elections.



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