Texas Will Use Racial Maps in 2018 Elections
SCOTUS ruling puts stay on gerrymandered cases
Texas' gerrymandered House and Congressional districts will remain in place during the 2018 elections, after the U.S. Supreme Court issued a Tuesday stay on two lower court rulings that found the maps illegal and unconstitutional. After years of legal fighting, a three-judge federal panel in San Antonio rejected the maps last month. The court had hoped to move swiftly on drawing new maps before primary filing opens Nov. 11. But SCOTUS Justice Samuel Alito issued a temporary stay on Aug. 31, and now the high court has split 5-4 to use the current maps in the March primaries – and therefore the November 2018 general election.
This does not mean that SCOTUS has overturned the lower court rulings, or that the maps will stay in place forever. However, the justices have given Attorney General Ken Paxton time to file an appeal, which means the case will likely drag on into the 2019 election cycle. For context, Texans have been living with these gerrymandered maps since 2011, and the next redistricting is scheduled for 2021.
Austin Democrat Lloyd Doggett represents CD 35, one of the seats rejected by the lower court, and his response to SCOTUS' action was sanguine: "I have always maintained that the Supreme Court would have the final say on local congressional district lines," he said, "and tonight the Court just said it."