U.S. Supreme Court justices will hear a case Monday with enormous political implications for Texas and will determine whether elections are held using redistricting maps drawn by the Republican-controlled Legislature or by a federal district court to account for minority population gains. This is not the first time the high court has weighed into the thorny area of Texas redistricting. Justices ruled in 2006 that a GOP mid-decade redistricting map by the Legislature diluted Latino voting strength to protect a Republican incumbent congressman from San Antonio. The Supreme Court has again intervened in a Lone Star political battle, with minority groups again accusing Texas of disenfranchisement through redistricting, and in the same congressional district.
“There are enormous similarities from what happened then to what is happening now,” said Nina Perales with the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, who successfully argued before the Supreme Court ruling six years ago. This time, on the request of Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, the high court has agreed to hear the state’s claim that a San Antonio-based federal court improperly rejected the Legislature’s maps and drew its own that favors Democrats.
The Supreme Court must determine what maps Texas will use in upcoming elections. Time is of the essence. Political parties agreed to push back the March 6 primaries to April 3. And regardless of how the high court rules, the redistricting maps for the Texas House, Senate and congressional districts drawn by the Legislature still face legal challenges filed by minority groups.