After years of legal wrangling, Texas and its court challengers — groups representing voters of color — were finally set to hash out new congressional and state House maps after judges ruled the current maps discriminated against minority voters. But the U.S. Supreme Court’s intervention last week added a new wrinkle to one of the most complicated redistricting cases moving through the courts. With the clock ticking toward the 2018 elections, it’s now unclear whether Texas voters will be electing their representatives using new maps. Here’s where things stand. Following the 2010 census, which showed massive growth in the state’s population, Texas lawmakers in 2011 redrew political maps to account for population changes. But those maps were promptly challenged by Texas voters, the Mexican American Legislative Caucus, the NAACP and other minority rights groups that alleged the maps violated the federal Voting Rights Act and the U.S. Constitution.
Since then, those claims have been amended to also include an interim map crafted by a court amid an election scramble and later ratified by the Texas Legislature in 2013. That’s the map the state has been using to run the last few rounds of elections while a San Antonio-based federal panel considered the validity of the maps.
In two highly anticipated decisions, a federal three-judge panel in San Antonioruled last month that the state’s congressional and state House maps needed to be redrawn to address voting rights violations. Specifically, the court found that the districts drawn by Texas lawmakers were tainted by discrimination against voters of color.