Think the Texas redistricting fight is over? Think again. Last week, after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a key provision of the federal Voting Rights Act, State Attorney General Greg Abbott said the voter ID law and the redistricting plan the Texas Legislature approved were good to go. “With today’s decision, the state’s voter ID law will take effect immediately,” Abbott said in a statement. “Redistricting maps passed by the Legislature may also take effect without approval from the federal government.” But — as opponents of the voter ID law and the redistricting plan predicted after the high court ruled that Texas and other (mostly Southern) states no longer require federal approval of voting laws or redrawn maps — on Monday a federal court in San Antonio basically told Abbott: “Not so fast.”
The three-judge panel court denied his request to dismiss the redistricting lawsuit Democratic legislators and civil rights groups filed two years ago.
Though the San Antonio court hearing was overshadowed by the emotional abortion debate at the State Capitol, the judges’ decision left no doubt that despite the Supreme Court’s ruling, there is no end in sight for the hard-fought redistricting battle. What happens next is anyone’s guess.
The only thing for sure is attorneys for the state and the plaintiffs challenging the redistricting plan and the voter ID law — both of which a Republican super majority approved in the 2011 session — won’t have long summer vacations. The judges asked the redistricting attorneys to file a series of legal briefs and return to court when summoned.