The Supreme Court ruled this morning on Texas’ redistricted electoral maps, sending them back to the state with a nastygram to the federal court that took it upon itself to overturn the legislature’s work. The legislature drew the maps to reflect Texas’ explosive population growth over the past decade. Democrats quickly took the maps to court charging that they were unfair to their party, which has consistently lost seats and power as the state has become increasingly Republican:
The Supreme Court on Friday instructed a lower court in Texas to take a fresh look at election maps it had drawn in place of a competing set of maps from the Texas Legislature. The justices said the lower court had not paid enough deference to the Legislature’s choices and had improperly substituted its own values for those of elected officials.
The court’s decision extends the uncertainty surrounding this major voting-rights case, which could help determine control of the House of Representatives.
“To avoid being compelled to make such otherwise standardless decisions,” the Supreme Court’s unsigned decision said, “a district court should take guidance from the state’s recently enacted plan in drafting an interim plan. That plan reflects the state’s policy judgments on where to place new districts and how to shift existing ones in response to massive population growth.”
Justice Clarence Thomas issued a concurring opinion, saying he would have instructed the elections to proceed under the Legislature’s maps.
The state’s primary is currently set for April 3. The Supreme Court’s decision may scramble that, again (Texas was originally a Super Tuesday state until the court challenge). The Texas primary will, among other things, decide who the next US senator from the state will be, and will allocate 150 delegates in the GOP presidential primary by a proportional vote.
Chris Elam, communications director at the Republican Party of Texas, comments:
The RPT is pleased with this decision. The unanimous ruling concisely laid out the Republican view that “redistricting is primarily the duty and responsibility of the State.” This is a clear victory against the liberals’ attempt to achieve legislative victories through the judiciary. At this point, our attention focuses squarely upon obtaining a quick, expedited ruling from the three-judge federal panel in San Antonio, who has been ordered to use the maps drawn by the Texas Legislature as “a starting point”. Time is of the essence in maintaining the April 3rd unified primary election.