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Vote Now: Where Should Roll Call Travel for the Midterm Elections?

High Court Tosses Out Interim Texas Map

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo

But it's clear the high court's ruling puts the San Antonio federal court in a tight box — at least until the U.S. District Court rules on preclearance. The path to draw and implement the 36 House districts in Texas is unclear until that court rules.

Yet the court's ruling might have implications for other redistricting and voting rights cases, too, operatives speculated.

First of all, the ruling signals this Supreme Court has little appetite for court-drawn maps. Parties will consider this when deciding whether to appeal their future cases.

Secondly, the high court ruled that the preclearance must be determined before a lower court implements any new interim plan. This has implications for states stalled in the redistricting process and seeking preclearance in federal court.

The court also called out court-drawn minority coalition districts, or districts where there are large numbers of more than one race in order to create a majority-minority seat. The justices wrote the lower court "had no basis for" crafting such a district with its interim map.

And, finally, the court noted the "serious constitutional questions" raised by Section 5 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. That's a sign it could take on that issue in a similar case later this year. Election attorneys cite several cases related to the Voting Rights Act currently making their way through the appeals courts.

Also, Justice Clarence Thomas concurred with the ruling, but went beyond his colleagues to state that he believed Section 5 is unconstitutional.

Texas officials already moved their primary back to April 3. But given the Supreme Court's ruling and the ongoing preclearance trial, there's talk the primary will move to a later date.

One Texas Republican source speculated the primary could move back to late May with runoff elections 60 days later.

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