A panel of federal judges told parties in a Texas redistricting case Wednesday not to expect a ruling within 30 days, throwing the date of the state’s political primaries further in doubt.
A ruling by the District of Columbia court in the complex case was expected to provide guidance to another federal panel in San Antonio trying to draw new maps for state House, Senate and congressional elections.
If the San Antonio court wants to maintain the April 3 primary date, “it will have to draw plans without benefit of a ruling from District Court in D.C.,” said Nina Perales with the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund.
The San Antonio court could wait for a ruling by the D.C. court, which concluded testimony this week on dilution of minority voting strength and discriminatory intent.
“An April 3rd primary clearly is dead, absent an agreement,” said Michael Li, a Dallas lawyer and author of a Texas redistricting blog.
Li added that it’s still possible to have an election on April 17 if a federal court in San Antonio doesn’t wait for the Washington court’s decision before it draws interim maps for the U.S. House, Texas House and state Senate.
Also, the order by the Washington court increases the possibility of a split primary in which the presidential and perhaps some other elections would be held separately from races for Congress and the Legislature, Li said.
Li went on to note at his blog that the San Antonio court has called for briefs by the 10th and a status hearing on the 15th. So yeah, I’d say they’re waiting for the DC court if there’s no settlement.
I think the state may feel some pressure to settle – we’ve heard enough from county elections administrators to know that a split primary will be a huge burden on them, and pretty much nobody wants to drag this out till the summer – but that’s easier said than done, especially if the plaintiffs feel like the state is playing favorites. Monday the 6th is the drop dead date for an agreement that would enable an April primary, so we’ll see what happens. I think the San Antonio court, having been swatted once by SCOTUS, will not take action until it gets clear guidance either from the DC court or the litigants themselves. And so we wait. NewsTaco has more.