Texas’ disputed U.S. and state House maps will come under an election-year review by the U.S. Supreme Court in a nationally-followed case that alleges racial discrimination by the state Legislature. The justices agreed Friday to review a lower-court ruling that took issue with a pair of U.S. House districts and several state House districts. The Republican-drawn maps – hotly disputed by Democrats – have muddled through the courts for three election cycles amid challenges that several of the districts were drawn in a way that diluted voting power for Latino and African American voters.
“They didn’t just cheat to get an edge in a silly game, they silenced the voices minorities at the ballot box,” said Texas Democratic Party Chair Gilberto Hinojosa, who said the maps are an example of Republicans “stacking the deck” against people of color.
Legal fights over redistricting have been common for decades in Texas and many other states, regardless of which party is in power. Democrats reigned in Texas for more than a century after the Civil War and Republicans challenged them. Republicans took over just more than 20 years ago in Texas, so they control redistricting now, and the Democrats challenge their maps.
The battle is important because redistricting literally is the process of drawing political boundaries, which shape the makeup of state legislatures and Congress once each decade.