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The U.S. Supreme Court agreed Friday to hear an appeal from Texas officials over the state’s controversial redistricting plan. The justices will hear the case on an expedited basis on January 9.
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott filed an emergency “application” last week with the high court, saying a map approved by a federal panel in San Antonio is “fatally flawed.” The court-drawn map was imposed after Democrats and minority groups in Texas challenged the original plan approved by the GOP-led state legislature.
The court-drawn map would increase the number of districts dominated by minorities, especially Hispanics. Texas is among several Southern states required under the Voting Rights Act to have any changes to voting laws approved by the U.S. Justice Department.
All states are required to redo their voting boundaries after the recently completed nationwide census, conducted once every ten years. Texas is getting four new congressional seats after the latest census showed its population grew by 4 million people. The plan drafted by the three-judge panel would give minorities the majority in three of those congressional districts.
“Ninety percent of the growth in this state in the last decade was minority growth,” said Trey Martinez Fischer, a Democratic state representative. “Sixty-five percent of that alone, Latino. So you would expect these new congressional districts would reflect the minority populations that created the opportunity.” Mr. Fischer leads the Texas House Mexican American Legislative Caucus, the key plaintiff in the lawsuit against the legislature’s original map.
Under state rules, redistricting plans approved by the legislature can be challenged in court, with judges having the power to craft alternate maps. Mr. Abbott said the federal court’s plan is an unconstitutional intrusion into the legislative process.
The state’s Republican governor, Presidential candidate Rick Perry, supported the map passed by the Legislature, but has not signed it into law.
The court-approved plan in Texas will stay in effect until all the legal challenges are exhausted.
The high court appeal is Perry v. Perez (11A520).
Filed under Law, Politics