Judge-drawn Texas redistricting map tossed out by Supreme Court
January 20th, 2012
10:28 AM ET
3 years ago

Judge-drawn Texas redistricting map tossed out by Supreme Court

Washington (CNN) - The U.S. Supreme Court has tossed out the Texas redistricting map for congressional and legislative seats drawn up a federal court, giving a partial victory to Republican lawmakers.

In an unsigned opinion issued just 11 days after holding oral arguments, the justices said a revised map that differed greatly from the one created by the Legislature used ambiguous standards.

"To the extent the (federal) District Court exceeded its mission to draw interim maps that do not violate the Constitution or the Voting Rights Act, and substituted its own concept of 'the collective public good' for the Texas Legislature's determination of which policies serve 'the interests of the citizens of Texas,' the (district) court erred," said the Supreme Court ruling Friday.

At issue are competing maps for the Texas Legislature and Congress - created first by Republican lawmakers that favored their political base and later by a federal judicial panel to give minorities greater voting power.

The court-drawn map was imposed after Democrats and minority groups in Texas challenged the original plan approved by the GOP-led Legislature.

The political stakes are huge: Texas gains four new congressional seats based on the newly completed census, and an expected high court ruling in coming weeks could help determine if Democrats can wrest control of the House of Representatives from the Republicans.

The legal stakes are just as important - creating standards courts must use when evaluating voting boundaries. This is the latest election-related dispute for the justices this year. Continuing, separate challenges to campaign spending laws and state voter identification laws will soon be presented to the court.

A federal court in San Antonio scheduled a February 1 hearing in response to the Supreme Court's decision, after which Texas' attorney general filed a motion urging swifter action in order to prevent a delay in primary elections scheduled for April 3.

According to a press release from state Attorney General Greg Abbott's office, February 1 is the "very latest" for a new redistricting map to be in place, for the primary to be held on time. The release claimed that "it does not appear that the court anticipates entering new interim redistricting plans by that date."

"In order to preserve the unified April 3, 2012, primary election date agreed to by the state's major political parties and ordered by this court, defendants respectfully request that this court ... enter an expedited scheduling order that will allow for entry of new interim redistricting plans by January 30, 2012," the attorney general's office said in its motion.

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Filed under: Supreme Court • Texas
soundoff (66 Responses)
  1. Truth and Nothing But the Truth

    Excellent!! Since when is it the job of a federal court to be drawing up redistricting maps??? Totally outrageous. The fools on the bench that did that should be tossed if they think that is within their job role.

    January 20, 2012 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  2. Sniffit

    It's not really all that big of a "victory" because it doesn't touch on whether the redistricting map the TX state legislature originally created was motivated by the desire to reduce the influence of the hispanic population, which grew 90% since the last census. All it means is that the lower court addressed the fact that it violated the Voting Rights Act in the wrong manner. TX GOPers could very easily win this battle and still lose the war once the underlying racism of THEIR redistricting map is addressed.

    January 20, 2012 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  3. Sarah Palin, Fierce Advocate for Childhood Obesity

    Spin and Nothing But the Spin(except of course for the lies)

    "Excellent!! Since when is it the job of a federal court to be drawing up redistricting maps??? Totally outrageous. The fools on the bench that did that should be tossed if they think that is within their job role."

    "The Supreme Court has thrown out electoral maps drawn by federal judges in Texas that favored minorities. The unsigned opinion Friday left the fate of Texas' April primaries unclear.

    The justices ordered the three-judge court in San Antonio to come up with new plans",

    Apparently, the Supreme court does not agree with you.

    January 20, 2012 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  4. Sniffit

    "Excellent!! Since when is it the job of a federal court to be drawing up redistricting maps???"

    This unsigned SCOTUS opinion returns the case to the lower court for further proceedings so the lower court can, once again, draw up a redistricting map, but in a different manner based on the SCOTUS' guidance. Ergo, you're way off base.

    January 20, 2012 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  5. Truth and Nothing But the Truth

    So are they supposed to draw up maps BASED on race to guarantee a Hispanic seat, or NOT use race and leave it to all the people? Which one do you claim is "racist"??? The one NOT based on race or the one based on race???

    In other states, there are unbelievably contorted and non-sensical districts draw up to include large black population centers, which almost guarantees a black person wins. Do you consider that racist since it is based on race and favors one race over another?

    January 20, 2012 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  6. westward

    The old puppet justices need to retire. Enough of this activist legislation!

    January 20, 2012 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  7. dreucalypt

    The whole idea here is that the Court is aiming ultimately to overturn the voting rights act.

    January 20, 2012 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  8. GI Joe

    Hmmm – right-wing activist court (one judge married to a bagger-lead-spokeswoman)

    Gee, I'm shocked.

    January 20, 2012 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  9. The Real Tom Paine

    westward

    The old puppet justices need to retire. Enough of this activist legislation!
    ****************************

    Boy, you would have hated John Marshall, since he favored an independent and active judiciary. I guess the conservatives missed that part of their Social Studies classes, since it runs counter to their deeply held beliefs that judges only parrot back the ideologically acceptable lines that conservatives believe: in other words, more intellectual babyfood for the Righties.

    January 20, 2012 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  10. Gale

    I am quite sure if the actual registered Hispanic voters were counted, there would have been no need for this to even be considered. The activists do not care how much it costs to try and get these legislations overturned, when there are probably that many Hispanics in those areas, but not registered voters!

    January 20, 2012 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  11. admit what our fathers did to deserve this

    these states have these reviews because of their history of intentionally trying to dilute the minority participation in elections. Some of the same men in power in the 60s have influence now over their sons and grandsons in power. Same BS attempted again....

    The Voting Rights Act is a good thing....if you don't agree you are denying or ignoring what our white fathers did to shame our country for so long.

    January 20, 2012 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  12. Jon

    So it's activism when the SC tells a lower court not to redraw congressional maps, but it's not activism when a lower court redraws a congressional map?

    .....

    January 20, 2012 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  13. us1776

    The Fascist Supreme Court strikes again.

    Hitler and Mussolini would be so proud.

    .

    January 20, 2012 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  14. Skeptic

    This is where the GOP has brains. It nominates Justices who will be always on its side whether it is right or wrong.

    Blame it all on Al Gore.

    January 20, 2012 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  15. woops

    i dont get it =(

    January 20, 2012 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  16. woops

    i dont understand :(

    January 20, 2012 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  17. jay

    surprise surprise...

    /sarcasm

    January 20, 2012 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  18. Jen

    "there are probably that many Hispanics in those areas, but not registered voters!"

    What are you basing that opinion on, Gale? Any facts? Or just your biased view that the majority of Hispanics must be illegals or non-voting?

    January 20, 2012 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  19. glyder

    minorities need special rights.it's pure racism to oppose them.just one more reason a secession of states is in order.

    January 20, 2012 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  20. chris

    This is a victory for Texans not for the GOP

    January 20, 2012 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  21. Skee

    How come districts cant look like squares, without arms (gerrymandered)?It's time for states with several districts to pick where you want the district to be centered and then let a computer add precients until it touches the next one. No gerrymander, No Party help. No racial help.
    THEN YOU RUN IN A COMPACT DISTRICT ON YOUR MERRITS. NO SAFE SEATS!

    January 20, 2012 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  22. Annie, Atlanta

    And why am I not surprised that our polarized politicized Supreme Court would give the GOP an advantage. We can't even trust the court system all the way to the top to be unbiased. And if our judicial system is as politicized as I'm afraid it is, where do we go from here when all decisions are based on political leanings? Citizens United anyone?

    January 20, 2012 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  23. Tim

    The decision was per curiam and guided by years of precedent. The District Court in Texas simply overreached his authority. This is a good decision.

    January 20, 2012 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  24. Grumpy

    Real Tom, considering some of the inaccuracies in social studies and American history that have plagued several of our would-be presidential candidates, perhaps we should be testing and evaluating politicians before and after they take office along the same lines they insist we evaluate our school teachers. Fair's fair, after all.

    January 20, 2012 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  25. Rudy NYC

    Gale wrote:

    I am quite sure if the actual registered Hispanic voters were counted, there would have been no need for this to even be considered. The activists do not care how much it costs to try and get these legislations overturned, when there are probably that many Hispanics in those areas, but not registered voters!
    -------–
    What difference does it make whether or not they are registered voters? It is based solely on census. A two parent family with two kids has two registered voters and counts as 4 people. A two parent family with eight kids has two registered voters and coutns as 10 people. Why are you so concerned about the number of registered voters?

    January 20, 2012 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
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