A federal court panel in San Antonio has scheduled a trial in July on the state’s current congressional and statehouse maps, signaling the beginning of a wind-down to the state’s six-years-long battle over redistricting. The order, issued late Monday by a three-judge panel, ordered the parties in the case to prepare for a weeklong trial starting July 10. It is a favorable ruling to the plaintiffs, who had petitioned the court for a speedy way to remedy what they considered discriminatory issues with the state’s current electoral maps in time for the 2018 elections. The order is another in a string of damaging court losses for the state, which had asked for a later trial. In March, the same panel invalidated three congressional districts after finding that the congressional maps drawn by state lawmakers in 2011 were done so with intent to discriminate against minorities. A month later, the panel found that the statehouse maps drawn that same year were drawn with the intent of diluting minority voting strength.
The court acknowledged in its order the need for a speedy trial if it were to provide a remedy for the 2018 election deadlines. It established strict deadlines for the parties to meet in preparation for the trial and prevented the parties from amending their claims. The tight timeline is important because the case probably will be appealed to the Supreme Court after the panel makes its decision.
Earlier Monday, the panel had signaled an impending trial date after denying the state’s requests to quickly resolve some of the remaining issues in Texas’ years-long battle over its congressional and statehouse maps through multiple orders.
In one order, the judges declined the state’s request to throw out plaintiffs’ complaints that the maps violated the 14th Amendment.