In a confrontation six years in the making, a federal court in San Antonio will devote the upcoming week to a jam-packed trial that will determine whether Texans have been electing members of the U.S. House and Texas House in districts that discriminate against minority voters. If the challenge to the maps succeeds, many Texans can expect to be voting in new districts during the 2018 primary and general elections — giving Democratic candidates a boost in areas redrawn to give greater clout to Latino and African-American voters. The trial before a three-judge panel begins Monday. The days will be long, starting at 8 a.m. and ending about 6 p.m., and the testimony will include a dense blend of legal theory, statistical analysis and expert opinion.
Don’t expect immediate gratification,. When the trial closes Friday or Saturday, the judges will take the matter under advisement — though a written ruling is expected relatively quickly as the court labors under looming election deadlines.
State officials have advised the court that any new maps would have to be ready by around Oct. 1 to meet deadlines for setting precinct lines and to allow candidate filing for the 2018 primaries to begin, as scheduled, in mid-November. Complicating the timing will be the inevitable appeal that the losing side will make directly to the U.S. Supreme Court.
If new maps are needed, the judges likely will order additional input on how to redraw district boundaries, lawyers said Friday.
Full Article: Judges to determine fate of Texas political districts.