In the latest twist in the court fight over Texas redistricting, the United States Supreme Court ruled that Texas could keep the interim redistricting map mandated by a lower court while the high court deliberates on the law suit, according to the Associated Press.
Interim map to be used only for the 2012 election
The Fox News account indicates that the Supreme Court has ruled that the interim map will only be used for the 2012 election. According to the Houston Chronicle, the interim map was drawn by a federal court in San Antonio to allow the Texas primary and the runoff election to proceed while the legal wrangle continued. The interim map met with approval by Texas government officials, including Attorney General Greg Abbott, but was criticized by Hispanic groups which had brought suit to overturn the original legislative drawn map as being discriminatory.
Redistricting controversy's twists and turns
The controversy began when the Obama Justice Department rejected the legislative drawn redistricting map as being discriminatory against Hispanics and other minorities under the 1965 voting rights act. The federal court in San Antonio drew its own map that favored minority voters. The United States Supreme Court overturned the lower court's action, throwing primary voting into chaos and delaying the filing of candidates for various legislative and congressional districts. The same federal court in San Antonio drew up the interim map under which the state has been operating ever since.
Three judge panel rejects legislative map
As the Washington Post reported, a three-judge panel rejected the legislative drawn maps as being in violation of the Voting Rights Act in August. As a practical matter, the controversy will not be decided by the Supreme Court in time for the November elections. Thus, the Supreme Court is allowing Texas to use the same maps that it used for the May primaries and the subsequent run-off.
What is at stake in the controversy
What is really at stake in the Texas redistricting controversy is the partisan makeup of both the Texas Legislature and the Texas congressional delegation. The Texas Legislature, dominated by Republicans, attempted to draw a redistricting map that favored its dominant party. While fairness to minorities may enter in the consideration of the Justice Department and groups involved in the lawsuit, the fact that a new map that better favors minorities would also favor Democrats must also be part of the political strategy behind the legal fight. The outcome will not be known until next year at the earliest.
Texas resident Mark Whittington writes about state issues for the Yahoo! Contributor Network.