By Chuck Lindell
The U.S. Supreme Court announced Friday that it will review lower-court rulings that ordered Texas to redraw 11 political districts found to be discriminatory.
Texas officials appealed the rulings, which said two congressional districts and nine Texas House districts were improperly drawn along racial lines in violation of the Voting Rights Act.
Acting on the Texas appeal, a divided court blocked efforts to redraw the maps in September to allow time to consider whether to grant Texas’ request to overturn the rulings. On Friday, the court announced that it combined the two appeals and will hear oral arguments this spring.
The fight over the state’s political districts, drawn earlier this decade after new census numbers were released, came to a head on Aug. 15, when a three-judge federal court panel in San Antonio concluded that two congressional districts violated the U.S. Constitution and Voting Rights Act:
–District 35, held by U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin, which the court said was gerrymandered along racial lines to provide Doggett with a Latino primary challenger and to eliminate another district with significant Hispanic and African-American populations that consistently voted for Democrats.
–District 27, held by U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Corpus Christi, which the court said was improperly drawn to reduce the voting strength of Latinos. Now stretching from southern Bastrop County to the Gulf of Mexico, the district originally extended south to Brownsville and was heavily Hispanic.
In a separate ruling about a week later, the same court ordered nine Texas House districts to be redrawn, saying they were created to discriminate against minority voters.
(c)2018 Austin American-Statesman, Texas