Supreme Court to hear Texas redistricting case
The U.S. Supreme Court late Friday granted a request from Texas Republicans and said it would intervene in a momentous dispute over redistricting and the voting power of minorities.
The justices, setting oral arguments for Jan. 9, are about to enter one of most contentious state battlegrounds in the wake of the 2010 Census and the new national round of redistricting.
The justices blocked Texas from using state legislative and congressional maps drawn by a lower court as a substitute to a state map. That court had said the state map could undermine the voting rights of Latinos and blacks. Texas Gov. Rick Perry and other state officials said the lower court exceeded its authority and should have deferred to the Texas legislature, which is controlled by Republicans.
The court agreed to decide the constitutionality of the state’s redistricting plans for the state Senate and House and for the state’s 36-member delegation to the U.S. House of Representatives.
The justices’ decision to take up the case revs up an already politically charged court term. In November the justices said they would hear a series of challenges to the Obama-sponsored health-care law.
At the center of the Texas dispute is federal protection for minorities’ voting rights, particularly in places such as Texas which had a history of racial discrimination at the polls. A key question is how much authority judges have to redraw a legislature’s map when the new boundaries have not yet won federal approval and as candidate registration for the primaries is beginning.
Friday’s case emerges from a Texas voting-rights controversy that has been pending before lower court judges in San Antonio and Washington, D.C.