Supreme Court grants Texas stay request on electoral maps


The 5-4 order issued late Tuesday means the state nearly certainly will hold elections next year in districts that were struck down as racially discriminatory.

Texas likely won't be forced to redraw electoral districts a court found were intentionally created to weaken the influence of minority voters before the 2018 midterm elections.

An ideologically divided U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday handed a win to Republicans in Texas by putting on hold rulings that said electoral districts drawn by state lawmakers discriminated against minority voters.

The state argued in a legal brief that if the Supreme Court allowed the redrawing of the state's proposed maps to move forward ahead of the election, the court risked throwing "the Texas election deadlines into chaos for the second time this decade".

While the two orders did not identify who had granted Texas officials' pleas for delay of the redistricting processes, it took five votes to approve of each order, and the five dissenters were identified, thus making clear who had voted in the majority.

But the court's liberals - Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan - signaled their unhappiness by noting they would not have agreed to Texas' request. The court action follows a temporary stay granted by Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. on August 28. Alito did not explain those actions. "Maybe it's better to have this discriminatory plan in front of the court and have the state of Texas try to defend it sooner rather than later".

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Two courts are considering whether the actions were meant to discourage African-American and Hispanic voters.

Although the trial court had actually found intentional race bias in crafting only two out of the state's 36 congressional districts and only nine of the 150 seats in the Texas house, moving voters around when new districts are crafted could affect neighboring districts as well as those ruled invalid. The high court could also choose to delay the March primary elections.

The court said the 27th and 35th congressional districts were drawn in violation of the U.S. Voting Rights Act. Texas must first file an appeal to the August ruling.

State attorneys wrote that the lower court was "intent on having its own judicial maps govern" the elections and had "waited too long" to put the case - let alone possible new maps - before the Supreme Court for review in an orderly manner.

Legendary journalist Lyle Denniston has written for us as a contributor since June 2011 and has covered the Supreme Court since 1958.