Supreme Court blocks rulings forcing Texas to redraw districts

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The Supreme Court put two rulings on hold late Tuesday that directed Texas officials to redraw congressional and state legislative districts.

The justices issued two orders blocking rulings from the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas invalidating redistricting plans for two congressional districts in Texas — held by Reps. Blake Farenthold (R) and Lloyd Doggett (D) — and the Texas House of Representatives.

Justice Samuel Alito had temporarily stayed the rulings to give the challengers time to respond and the court time to consider the state’s request.

{mosads}The court voted 5-4 on each order blocking the rulings. Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan said they would have denied the state’s request.

The lower court had found the state intentionally tried to weaken the power of Hispanic voters by preserving the congressional district held by Farenthold and had relied too heavily race in preserving the district held by Doggett. 

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) argued in the state’s request for the stay that the order left the state “in an impossible position” due to a Oct. 1 deadline to provide templates of voter-registration certificates to election officials in each of the state’s 254 counties.

But the challengers say the Oct. 1 deadline that Texas claims “is no deadline at all.”

“If the Court finds that this is an ‘emergency’ warranting taking the extraordinary step of exercising jurisdiction over the three-judge court’s interlocutory order, then virtually every interlocutory order from a three-judge court in a redistricting case will now be appealable,” attorneys for Texas resident Shannon Perez, the lead plaintiff in the case, argued in court briefs.

“Because the court does not yet have jurisdiction to hear this appeal, the temporary stay should be immediately dissolved and the three-judge court permitted to decide how and when to remedy the constitutional and statutory violations in the current redistricting plan.”

In a statement following the decisions late Tuesday, Doggett said there is now certainty his district “will remain precisely the same for the next election.” 

“Filing for that election begins in only two months,” he said. “I will maintain my active involvement in San Antonio, Austin, San Marcos, Lockhart and the other communities along I-35.”

Doggett added that he will be holding his seventh town hall this Saturday and his eighth town hall next Saturday. 

“In between I will be listening to neighbors and participating in a number of activities throughout the area. Together, we will overcome the mean-spirited, narrow-minded Trump agenda,” he continued.

This story was updated on Sept. 13 at 10:28 a.m.

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