A decision by the U.S. Supreme Court on whether to hear Texas’ appeal in a redistricting case is likely to be delayed until the justices rule on a different voting rights case, lawyers involved in the Texas battle said Friday. Supreme Court justices have held a series of screening conferences to select the cases to be argued during the spring term. So far, justices haven’t selected the Texas appeal of a federal court ruling that the state discriminated against minorities with new redistricting maps for Congress and the Legislature. Texas, in its appeal, also has challenged the constitutionality of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act that requires prior approval by the Justice Department of any changes to voting laws and procedures for jurisdictions with a history of discrimination.
The court will hear a similar challenge to Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act brought by Shelby County, Ala., on Feb. 27. That case also claims the provision is unconstitutional.
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott said that because the court will hear arguments in the Shelby County case and because the Texas appeal hinges on Section 5, justices may decide “to hold the case.” Others agree.
The court could wait on the Texas appeal because the Shelby County case is a “straight up” review of Section 5, said Matt Angle, director of the Lone Star Project, a political action committee that supported minority and Democratic parties in the Texas redistricting case.
Angle said that depending upon the ruling by the court in the Shelby County case, it likely would send the Texas case back to the three-judge court in Washington, D.C., and order revisions to adhere to their ruling on Section 5.