The Supreme Court is likely to decide early this week whether to act on an appeal from Texas Republicans and block the use of an election map that could help three or more Latino Democrats win seats in Congress next year.
The case of Rick Perry vs. Shannon Perez is the first redistricting battle to come before the high court in the round of political line-drawing that followed the 2010 census. It mixes partisan politics with a continuing legal dispute over the role of the Voting Rights Act in aiding minority candidates.
Obama administration lawyers had joined the case on the side of Latino civil rights advocates. Together, they argued that Texas Republicans who control the Legislature had denied fair representation to the state’s growing Latino minority. Texas was a big winner in the recent census tally. Its population grew by nearly 4.3 million, driven by a surge of Latinos. Based on this growth, the Lone Star State will receive four more seats in the House of Representatives, giving it 36.
At issue now is whether state lawmakers are entitled to draw the district lines to benefit their party, or instead, whether judges should draw the lines to ensure more representation for Latinos and blacks.
Partisan gerrymandering is the norm in most states when one party has a clear edge in power, and the GOP dominates Texas politics. Former House Republican leader Tom DeLay devised the last map changes, which helped Republicans win 22 of the state’s 32 seats in Congress. In statewide elections, Republicans usually win about 57% of the vote.