As the election season intensifies, the Supreme Court will hear a dispute Monday involving the fairness of new voting districts drawn by the Texas Legislature. The case arises as several challenges from other states and localities have been made against the landmark 1965 Voting Rights Act. Advocates on both sides are watching the Texas case for signals from the court on whether a decades-old provision intended to ensure equality at the polls should stand.
In Texas, a San Antonio-based federal court blocked the Legislature’s voting-district maps, saying they could not be used until officials had ensured, based on the 1965 law, that they didn’t harm the interests of Hispanics and blacks. Texas contends the lower court judges wrongly drew a new, interim plan for state House and Senate districts and Texas’ 36-member U.S. House of Representatives. State lawyers say the judges should have deferred to the legislative plan even though it had not been cleared under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.
That section, covering nine mostly Southern states and scores of smaller jurisdictions elsewhere with a history of racial discrimination, requires the localities to show in advance that new maps or other changes would not undermine minorities’ voting rights.
Though Texas only implicitly challenges that section, several direct attacks to the constitutionality of Section 5 are simmering, including one from Shelby County, Ala., to be heard by a federal court in Washington this month.
Full Article: Supreme Court to examine Texas redistricting – USATODAY.com.