The Supreme Court of the United States will now tackle the multiple years' battle concerning the political map of Texas on April 24. The outcome can scramble a number of state House and Congressional districts in time for the scheduled November elections. Keen observers of the Supreme Court expect a June decision on a case which centers on the political borders that civil rights groups claim could dilute the voting power of minorities.
Redrawing a state
Ken Paxton, the present Attorney General disagrees. He was in Legislature at a time when maps were created in 2011. He argued that the tweaks banished any problems the maps had in the first place. A San Antonio federal court panel consisting of three judges disagreed. In 2017, it canceled two of Texas' 36 Congressional districts along with a total of nine state districts. The court ruled both Congressional and state House were made with discriminatory practices in mind. Paxton had appealed. The Supreme Court totally suspended the ruling made by the lower court as the case is being heard.
Other than the upcoming elections, state loss means Texas would require a federal sign off prior to making the changes to the voting laws. Texas state reached this position after a long and winding path. The state added four Congressional seats post 2010 showing that the population of the state had increased by about four million individuals. Minorities are the main driver of growth. The GOP Legislature in 2011 reshaped boundaries for state Senate, state House, and Congressional districts. These maps, however, were never implemented.
For voters, the legal ruling will have longer-term ramifications. The list of effects could be giving minorities and Democrats a much better chance to win more seats. Texas is by no means alone. Similar political boundary battles are being fought in Maryland and Wisconsin. Both states allege partisan gerrymandering. Republicans claim Democrats got the upper hand in Maryland and Democrats allege Republicans are trying to manage Wisconsin in their favor. The US Supreme Court has earlier canceled a Republican-drawn North Carolina Congressional map in 2017 on racial grounds. The justices have, however, expressed reservations about getting into the battles raging between Republicans and Democrats.
In case the plaintiffs of Texas get their way, the state will be compelled to redraw all political boundaries prior to the 2018 or the 2020 elections. Although a few districts are named in such cases, any boundary changes could have ripple effects in neighboring districts.