SCOTUS Hears Texas Redistricting

Gerrymandering of congressional and state maps currently at high court

Are Texas' electoral maps racist? The U.S. Supreme Court will decide. On Tuesday, SCOTUS heard arguments in Abbott v. Perez, the state's redistricting case, a long and tangled saga that began in 2011. The state is appealing a lower court ruling that found legislative and congressional maps were drawn by lawmakers to intentionally discriminate against black and Hispanic voters and dilute their power. Among the congressional districts in question is Austin Rep. Lloyd Dog­gett's CD 35, which runs along I-35 between Aus­tin and San Antonio (and not much else). The outcome will mean Texas either keeps its discriminatory maps or is forced to redraw them, and possibly be subject to federal pre-clearance any time it wants to draw new districts.

Without court intervention, there's nothing stopping Republicans from creating new discriminatory maps after the 2020 census, notes Austin state Rep. Eddie Rodri­guez, a named plaintiff in the lawsuit. SCOTUS could also decide to punt the case to the lower court due to jurisdictional issues. According to media reports, the liberal justices on Tuesday appeared sympathetic toward the civil rights and minority groups contesting the map, while conservatives seemed to side with the state. It's anyone's guess how Justice Anthony Kennedy's decisive vote will swing. A final ruling is expected this summer.

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