Judge-drawn Texas redistricting map tossed out by Supreme Court
January 20th, 2012
10:28 AM ET
2 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.

Also see:

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Judge-drawn Texas redistricting map tossed out by Supreme Court

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Filed under: Supreme Court • Texas
soundoff (66 Responses)
  1. Pips

    "If blacks and latinos would stop kowtowing to democrats their distribution between dem/indep/repub would change and the maps would change"

    LOL. You cannot distribute by party registration, you MUST distribute by population.

    January 20, 2012 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  2. bostondan

    I live in the bluest of the blue, Massachusetts. Re-drawing congressional districts to insure the party in charge remains in office is widespread here and everywhere else. It is not "racist", or trying to insure minority or other representation, it is purely a matter of the incumbent party and incumbent polititicians trying to stay in power and increasing their power. The Dems do it as do the Repubs.
    As to those whining about your ethnic or racial representation, everyone who registers has a vote. Use it.

    January 20, 2012 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  3. asher

    I live in texas. I hope you have seen Perry in the Debates, and i hope you understand why we don't need the GOP getting 4 more seats in texas. They have a super majority here, and can pass anything they want. Those seats were earned by minority groups moving into texas. Maybe we should ask them who they want to support there district. instead of the republican way of forcing it down your throat like it was Christianity. Because what is right for them is what is right. Republican Conservatives live by two sets of rules. There's ,and yours. They want everything for themselves, and everyone else to live pay check to pay check in debt as indentured servants of the untied states of America.

    January 20, 2012 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  4. Robert

    If you disagree with this decision by the SCOTUS then do not vote republican and give President Obama 4 more years to fill seats with more liberal judges. Nothing illegal here, just conservitive justices

    January 20, 2012 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  5. gt

    .no more judges ... that put there will on the people...

    January 20, 2012 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  6. Davis

    Annie, Atlanta – While there is a polarized SCOTUS it is mentioned in the article there was no dissents in the 13-page opinion.

    January 20, 2012 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  7. The Real Tom Paine

    All that is happening is that the SCOTUS is sending the plan back to the lower court to be re-done. Not sure if the GOP has won anything, since it seems like a delaying of the inevitable.

    January 20, 2012 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  8. vote the Tea Party OUT in 2012

    here in Texas if a student has a gun licence they can use that as an ID to vote, but a student ID is NOT accepted. So I am not shocked that the SCOTUS would throw this out. The great red state of Texas protects the right as much as it can. I live here and I see it everyday.

    January 20, 2012 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  9. Truth and Nothing But the Truth

    Look all around the country. Democrats have been jerry mandering districts for decades and a word was never said, until the Democrats lost and wanted their lackeys on the bench to do what the elected Texas representatives are allowed to do under the law. The fact that the federal government and courts can endlessly interfere with and trample on the rights of voters of certain states is an outrage. An end must be put to that or the leftist Democrats will ALWAYS be able to trample the rights of voters IN SOME STATES. Now THAT is discrimination!

    January 20, 2012 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  10. ObvUsername

    So the legislature is wrong to have prevented an increase in minority representation. The District Court was wrong to try and force a "start from scratch" redistricting plan which favors minority representation. The Supreme Court has not "given the GOP the advantage." They said that both the legislature and the District Court were wrong and to fix it.

    January 20, 2012 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  11. Muldoon in Ohio

    With many states rife with corruption and gerrymandering, I think some Federal oversight is inevitable. We can thank our state political bossesfor this, unfortunately. Also, if the states don't adopt a common districting plan fair to all citizens, the US supreme court may legislate from the bench, which could be cause real problems.

    January 20, 2012 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  12. Bill

    FANTASTIC. Now do the same thing in IDAHO.

    January 20, 2012 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  13. Truth and Nothing But the Truth

    here in Texas if a student has a gun licence they can use that as an ID to vote, but a student ID is NOT accepted
    =================================================================================
    Anybody can produce a student ID in their basement, most likely not a violation of the law. Probably NOT the case with a gun license. Are you proposing that ANY form of ID, no matter the source (basement ink jet printer?) be accepted? I'm sure all the under age teenagers looking to purchase alcohol just LOVE this idea.

    January 20, 2012 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  14. Nick

    why not just redraw the districts with a computer program? no bias. no questions, its all random. maybe we can get politicians who will get elected based on actualy skills, not minorities or party lines. and i dont mean just texas, i mean all 50 states.

    maybe they can get rid of the electoral college while there at it and just count everyones vote, they have the capabilities to do so now. we dont live in the 18th century anymore >.>

    January 20, 2012 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  15. Nathan

    Right Wing justices continue their attempt to destroy this country.

    January 20, 2012 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  16. Saboth

    Enough is enough...districts....electoral collegee and all that mess. There is absolutely no need for any of that these days. Can we please just move to the popular vote...the person with the most votes wins, period.

    January 20, 2012 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
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