Supreme Court Puts Redrawing Of Texas Electoral Maps On Hold

Frederick Owens
September 13, 2017

A deeply-divided Supreme Court on Tuesday night stepped back into the long-running legal battle over whether the Texas legislature has unconstitutionally discriminated against minority voters in drawing new congressional and state legislative election districts.

Civil rights groups were disappointed in the decision to grant the stay, which remains in place pending disposition of an appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court.

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

The decision was yet another indication of the influence of President Donald Trump's nominee to the Supreme Court, Justice Neil Gorsuch, who joined the court in April. Justices Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan dissented in a 5-4 ruling.

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Previously, in two prior orders, Justice Alito had issued temporary delay orders to be in effect until the full court considered the state's pleas for more prolonged postponements.

The U.S. Supreme Court has decided that Texas shouldn't rush to fix its electoral district maps before the state's 2018 elections - even though two federal courts found 11 of these districts to be illegally drawn to suppress the votes of African-American and Latino voters. 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 Supreme Court gave no reason for its Tuesday decision as is normal in such cases, per Politico.

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. One law expert tells CNN, however, that "the 5-4 split indicates that the map's challengers may have a tough time before the Justices when the (Supreme) Court eventually hears this case".

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