With two federal courts again blasting Texas for “intentional discrimination” against blacks and Hispanics in drawing political boundaries, concern is mounting that voter rights litigation could upend the state’s 2018 elections calendar. State officials insisted Friday that they expect to stop the court challenges on appeal and reverse Texas’ losing streak on the voting rights lawsuits; legal experts predicted that Texas could end up back under federal supervision of its elections rules if the appeals fail. In short, the court fight is shaping up as a political game of chicken, with significant consequences no matter how it turns out. “In both of the cases where there are new decisions, the courts have ruled that Texas has purposefully maintained ‘intentional discrimination’ in the way it drew its maps,” said Michael Li, an expert on Texas redistricting who is senior counsel with the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University.
“That’s an important finding that could result in Texas being placed back under preclearance coverage,” he said.
While other legal experts and political scientists agree with Li’s assessment, Gov. Greg Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton both insist that the state will win the cases on appeal — so Texas’ voting can proceed uninterrupted through the March primaries.
“These issues (in the state’s congressional redistricting case) have been ruled on previously, and we won at the Supreme Court,” explained Abbott, who litigated the case for the state when he was attorney general. “We anticipate winning on appeal.”