I suppose this was inevitable.
Texas is appealing a federal court decision that denied preclearance to legislatively drawn redistricting maps, saying the court overstepped its authority under the federal Voting Rights Act, Attorney General Greg Abbott announced late Friday.
That appeal won’t affect the current election.
Earlier this year — after the elections were under way — that court decided that the new maps intentionally discriminated against voting minorities in the state; it’s that ruling that Abbott is appealing. (Here’s a copy of the full filing.)
While that was in the works, a separate three-judge federal panel operating out of San Antonio drew maps for use in the current elections, and those are being used now. Abbott is hoping to free the Legislature’s preferred maps for future elections, and that’s why he’s appealing the ruling.
This was always going to SCOTUS, it was just a matter of when. Michael Li has more details.
The brief argues the panel erred by ruling that Texas needed to increase the number of majority minority congressional districts to keep up with population growth and in holding that Anglo majority crossover districts, such as CD-25 and SD-10, are protected under section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.
The brief also argues that the panel erred by allowing private litigants to intervene and make claims about the state senate map despite the fact that the Justice Department initially did not find problems with that map.
In the alternative, Texas argues that section 5 of the Voting Rights Act is unconstitutional.
Once the jurisdiction statement is docketed, DOJ and intervenors will have 30 days to respond. If the Supreme Court decides that the questions raised on appeal are substantial enough to be considered (almost a certainty), the parties will have an opportunity for additional briefing before the case is set for oral argument in the early part of next year.
A decision in the case is not expected until late spring at the earliest.
In the mean time, the parties are due to submit proposals to the San Antonio court by December 1 how to they would propose to have the San Antonio court fix the maps or oversee efforts by the Texas Legislature to fix the maps.
The state’s brief can be found here.
There is still the matter of what the San Antonio court does with the DC Court’s ruling, since they’re the ones that drew the interim maps. That court has both Section 2 and Section 5 issues to deal with. I’m a bit uncertain, but I believe this means that ultimately SCOTUS will get two cases before it, unless they gut Section 5 and make that part of the issue moot. Am I on the right track here? If you know better, leave a comment and let us know.