High Court Steps Into Texas Redistricting Fight | Courthouse News Service
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High Court Steps Into Texas Redistricting Fight

(CN) - The Supreme Court will determine the fate of court-drawn Texas redistricting maps as Washington federal judges decide whether the state Legislature's plans disregarded minority voter rights.

Texas is one of nine states that as a whole must receive preclearance of their redistricting plans from either the U.S. Department of Justice or the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, according to the Voting Rights Act.

A panel in the Western District of Texas took on the task of coming up with the interim plans for the 2012 election cycle after the Washington court rejected Texas' bid for summary judgment to approve the state's redistricting maps for the U.S. House of Representatives, the Texas House of Representatives and the state Senate.

Though one member of the panel dissented, the majority adopted three interim plans and refused Texas' subsequent motions to stay those plans in a series of November orders.

U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia and U.S. District Judge Xavier Rodriguez belonged to the majority, and 5th Circuit Judge Jerry Smith made up the dissent.

"Unless the Supreme Court enters the fray at once to force a stay or a revision, this litigation is for most practical purposes, at an end," Smith wrote, as he offered up his own alternative to the plan adopted by the majority for the Texas House of Representatives.

Texas appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, submitting its applications to Justice Antonin Scalia.

The Supreme Court announced Friday that it will consolidate two cases concerning the maps for a hearing scheduled for Jan. 9, 2012.

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