Texas Redistricting Case Heads to Supreme Court


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The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear Texas's appeal of a lower court decision to strike down the state's congressional and legislative voter maps. Other cases are brewing in North Carolina and Pennsylvania. North Dakota. That decision was "questionable even when decided", and is "now inflicting extreme harm and unfairness on the states", Kennedy wrote in a concurring opinion.

The Texas dispute dates back to 2011, when the GOP-dominated legislature created new congressional and state legislative districts to help Republicans, even though the growth in the state's population was nearly entirely attributable to minorities who more often vote Democratic.

A barrage of court rulings past year - including the two redistricting rulings handed down last August - have forced Texas leaders to confront whether they strayed too far in enacting voting laws found to have disproportionately burdened people of color. A hearing date for the case has yet to be set.

The state's currents maps, which have been in place for the past three election cycles, were adopted by the Legislature in 2013.

Because the Quill precedent was still binding, the state conceded that it could not win the case.

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State officials then took the case on to the Justices, arguing that other states are beginning to imitate its challenge to the old constitutional doctrine, so the Justices could not long evade the issue. The state has denied targeting voters by race and admitted instead to practicing partisan gerrymandering by overtly favoring Republicans in drawing the districts.

The stakes in the case are high.

The disputed congressional districts are CD 27, which stretches from the Central Texas town of Lockhart to the coastal communities along the Gulf of Mexico, and CD 35, which runs from Austin to San Antonio in a narrow swath along Interstate Highway 35.

More often, lawmakers use computer software programs that have vastly improved the art of line-drawing for partisan advantage.

That would be a victory for states and traditional businesses, but a defeat for smaller online retailers who claim they can not navigate dozens of state sales tax systems the way major players such as Amazon do. While the state is considered a battleground in national and statewide elections, Republicans designed state Assembly districts that have given them a almost 2-to-1 edge in seats.