Texas Redistricting Case Heads to Supreme Court

Lower court ruling found vote dilution and racial gerrymandering

Shirley Connuck of Falls Church, Virginia, right, holds up a sign representing a district in Texas as protesters demonstrate outside the Supreme Court on Oct. 3, 2017, as the court was hearing a case on partisan gerrymandering. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The Supreme Court will hear arguments on whether Texas must redraw its congressional maps because of gerrymanders, in a case that could have major implications for this year’s elections in the Lone Star State.

The justices announced Friday they will review an August ruling from a panel of three federal judges that the current map needs to be changed because it has intentional vote dilution in the 27th District and racial gerrymandering in the 35th District. Those districts are currently held by Republican Blake Farenthold and Democrat Lloyd Doggett, respectively.

The lower court’s unanimous decision said the districts violated the Constitution and the Voting Rights Act, and ordered the state to quickly redraw the map. The Supreme Court in September put that on hold as they considered whether to hear Texas’ appeal.

The high court action is the latest in a long saga over the state’s congressional and statehouse maps, and Texas officials said the timing could inject chaos into the Nov. 6 elections.

Texas is home to one of the most competitive House races in the country — the 23rd District now held by Rep. Will Hurd — and Democrats are already targeting three other Lone Star seats in 2018. Primaries are scheduled for March 6 and the filing deadline was Dec. 11.

The justices also announced Friday that they will hear a challenge to the state legislative maps, but did not say when oral arguments would happen for either Texas case.

The case joins a Supreme Court docket that already has consequential congressional redistricting cases, including a case about partisan gerrymandering in Maryland. The justices are also expected to weigh in on a lower court ruling that struck down North Carolina’s congressional map as a partisan gerrymander, ordering a new map for the 2018 elections.

Simone Pathé contributed to this report.

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