The Supreme Court has rejected redistricting maps drawn by a Texas federal court. The judicially-created maps were created as a response to the Texas legislature’s failure to comply with Section 5 of the Voting rights Act. However, the Supreme Court decision throws the future of the redistricting map into question as the 2012 elections approach. According to reporting by the New York Times, the new map may not differ significantly from the one created by the Texas court, one which some say favors representation of Hispanic communities and the Democrats. The initial map proposed by the state legislature favored Republicans, but was never submitted to the Department of Justice for pre-clearance.
There may not be enough time before the election to prepare the maps appropriately. The Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott hopes to have interim maps in place by the end of January so that the state’s primary can take place on April 3rd. Abbott moved the federal court conference on the issue to January 27, ahead of schedule. The date of the primary has already been moved back from March 6th to the current April date, though it is not clear whether the state will be able to hold the election by April either.
The San Antonio Court charged with redrawing the maps—starting, the Supreme Court has ordered, with the initial maps created by the state legislature—must draw maps that reflect the Texas population and must be approved by the Texas legislature. On January 24, US District Judge Orlando Garcia ordered that in case the parties cannot agree on interim maps, “they should indicate which districts on the Legislature’s enacted maps they no longer object to in light of the Supreme Court’s decision.”
Closing arguments by the Justice Department and the state of Texas were made on January 31st. It is not clear when the judges will issue a ruling.
Allison Handler is a first-year law student at William & Mary.