Supreme Court Considers Gerrymandering in Texas

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The minority groups also accuse the state of appealing to the Supreme Court prematurely before the lower courts could fashion a remedy, possibly by drawing new lines for the 2018 midterm elections.

Tuesday's oral arguments were the culmination of nearly a decade of fighting over districts drawn by the Texas Legislature after the 2010 census.

Although the case has been moving forward since 2011, the state adopted new maps in 2013 that Texas argues followed the lower courts' mandates.

Texas re-draws voting lines every 10 years based on Census population counts.

After three election cycles that used the interim maps it had drawn, the district court ruled that they were flawed. "Now, if we're going to call that grant of an injunction, we're going to hear 50,000 appeals". Before Texas Solicitor General Scott Keller could make it through his preamble, he was interrupted by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who questioned whether the Supreme Court should be hearing the case because the lower court hasn't issued an injunction finally stopping the state from using its current districts.

"What does the piece of paper say here?" "If the Supreme Court finds against us, them's the rules", said Anchia.

"The district court in Texas trampled on law and logic alike in order to wrest from the people of Texas their authority - through their duly elected representatives - to control their legislative districts".

If the court does side with the state, the next opportunity to redraw districts won't come until after the 2020 census.

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"You have instances where the courts have said this is some intentional discrimination or there's unconstitutional gerrymandering", Rodriguez said in an interview on "State of Texas".

If the court decides the district lines need to be redrawn, Chriss said that could mean more competitive elections in the future.

NAACP Texas State Conference President and attorney, Gary Bledsoe, believes that the previous wins by the NAACP and its partners from the Mexican American Legislative Caucus (MALC), Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), and The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), will be reinforced by the SCOTUS.

Where are we now? Bell County, south of Waco, and Corpus Christi's Nueces County each have two districts that could be redrawn pending the outcome of the case. Three of those districts - 103, 104 and 105 - are in Dallas County.

The civil rights groups counter that the new maps left unchanged numerous challenged state and congressional districts that the lower courts found unconstitutional. Rick Perry from calling an emergency legislative session to adopt the interim map.

No matter what the Supreme Court does with the Texas redistricting case it heard Tuesday, Texas Republicans have already won, in a way, in how they have been able to drag out the litigation over their 2011 state legislative and US congressional map.

Keller argued that the high court should uphold the current maps, which the Legislature adopted in 2013 following the contours of an earlier interim court redistricting plan put in place for the 2012 elections. "I appreciate that the Supreme Court granted a stay and heard our case". More liberal Justices Kagan and Sotomayor pushed back with Justice Kagan suggesting the Texas legislature could not seek "safe harbor" from "just a preliminary injunction opinion" that didn't weigh all the evidence and facts.

"And that's because traditional Democratic constituencies are watered down and overwhelmed by rural voters who are overwhelmingly Republican", Chriss said. However, the question before the High Court is whether the Texas districts violate the Voting Rights Act by diluting the votes of minorities in Texas. "Justice will soon be served, but we aren't taking anything for granted".

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