High Court Halts Order to Redraw Texas Voting Maps

(CN) – The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday temporarily blocked a district court’s ruling that two Texas congressional districts must be redrawn to address discrimination concerns.

In a single-page order, Justice Samuel Alito issued a stay against a lower court decision finding that the congressional map had been adopted with the intent to discriminate against minority voters.

On Aug. 15, a three-judge panel led by U.S. District Judge Xavier Rodriguez found that Texas lawmakers in 2013 “intentionally furthered and continued the existing discrimination in the plans.”

“The Court concludes that the racially discriminatory intent and effects that it previously found in the 2011 plans carry over into the 2013 plans where those district lines remain unchanged,” Rodriguez wrote. “The discriminatory taint was not removed by the Legislature’s enactment of the Court’s interim plans, because the Legislature engaged in no deliberative process to remove any such taint, and in fact intended any such taint to be maintained but be safe from remedy.”

The disputed districts are CD 27, which stretches from the Central Texas town of Lockhart to the coastal communities along the Gulf of Mexico, and CD 35, which runs from Austin to San Antonio in a narrow swath along Interstate Highway 35.

Blake Farenthold, R-Corpus Christi, represents CD 27, while CD 35 is represented by Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin.

On Friday, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton asked the Supreme Court to stay the lower court’s ruling regarding the two congressional districts.

“The maps are lawful and constitutional, and a stay is vital to avoiding unnecessary election confusion while the Supreme Court reviews this case,” Paxton said in a statement Friday.

Alito granted Paxton’s request Monday, giving the plaintiffs in the case until Sept. 5 to respond to his appeal.

Alito is the justice responsible for appeals from the Fifth Circuit, which includes Texas, Mississippi and Louisiana.

His stay order puts off a court hearing scheduled for next week until the full Supreme Court can decide the case.

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