Supreme Court Preserves Texas' Gerrymandered Maps In 5-4 Split-For Now

Supreme Court blocks rulings forcing Texas to redraw districts

Supreme Court grants Texas stay request on electoral maps

On Tuesday night, the Supreme Court ruled that Texas should not be required to promptly redraw federal and state legislative districts that a federal court had found violated the Constitution and the Voting Rights Act, according to The New York Times. After Texas created new maps in 2011, a federal district court in Texas this year found that certain districts in those maps-as well as slightly altered maps adopted in 2013-were drawn in a way that discriminated against Hispanic and African American voters.

"The Supreme Court confirmed what the rest of us already knew: Texas should be able to use maps in 2018 that the district court itself adopted in 2012 and Texas used in the last three election cycles", Paxton said in a statement.

The high court could also choose to delay the March primary elections - a decision that's likely months away.

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The order gave no reason for the decision, stating only that the San Antonio-based three-judge panel must stop redrawing districts until the Supreme Court rules on Texas' appeal.

The divided court's liberal justices, Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor all dissented the decision, in an effort to allow the districts to be redrawn.

Attorney General Ken Paxton praised the order, saying he was "eager to proceed with this case in the high court". "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. But now Texas will have to wait at least until October, when the Supreme Court is back in session, for approval (or not) to redraw the contested districts.

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"We are disappointed that there is another hurdle in this process preventing some Texas voters from having fair districts drawn as quickly as possible", said Allison Riggs, senior voting rights attorney for the Southern Coalition for Social Justice.

The Supreme Court's orders mean that the state could potentially use the disputed maps for the 2018 elections. It's a harbinger of where the Supreme Court stands on the question of discriminatory redistricting. Without a full complement of five conservative justices, the court likely would have tied 4 to 4, and Texas's request for a stay would have failed. The district court disagreed, reasoning that discrimination from the 2011 maps had carried over in the interim plan.

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