Court: Texas needs no new political maps in 2018


Highlights

Overruled by the Supreme Court, three-judge panel says new political maps will not be needed this year.

High court took issue with only one Texas House district in Fort Worth, but changes there will have to wait.

It’s official: Texas political maps will not change for the Nov. 6 general election.

A three-judge federal court panel, whose order to redraw Texas political districts was overruled by the U.S. Supreme Court last week, said Tuesday that no changes will be required before the midterm elections — even in the one Texas House district found to have been improperly gerrymandered along racial lines.

The three judges gave opposing sides until Aug. 6 to submit advisories on what remedies, “if any,” are needed for Texas House District 90 — represented by state Rep. Ramón Romero Jr., D-Fort Worth — which the Supreme Court said was drawn with race as the predominant factor to ensure that Latino voters were in the majority.

“On the basis of the advisories, this court will determine how to proceed regarding HD 90,” the judges said.

If Romero’s district is redrawn — a process that would affect adjoining districts — the new boundaries would be in effect for only the 2020 election. Political maps are set to be redrawn by the Legislature in 2021 based on population figures from the 2020 census.

READ: Poll shows Democrats narrowing margins in some statewide races

Tuesday’s order was the first from the judges since a sharply divided Supreme Court determined June 25 that the Republican-drawn maps for the Texas House and Texas congressional districts were largely legal, overruling the lower court’s finding that 11 districts had been created to intentionally discriminate against minority voters.

The San Antonio-based three-judge panel gave lawyers until Aug. 29 to submit legal briefs on what issues, if any, remain to be decided in the long-running case.

In light of the Supreme Court opinion, the order also formally denied a permanent injunction that had been sought by minority voters, civil rights groups and Democratic politicians who had challenged the district maps as discriminatory.

The Supreme Court ruling overturned an order to redraw two Central Texas congressional districts — District 35, held by U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin, and District 27, which includes part of Bastrop County. The court also blocked an order to redraw eight Texas House districts in Bell, Dallas and Nueces counties.

Redrawing Doggett’s district likely would have resulted in major changes in Travis County, a Democratic stronghold that was broken into five districts, four of which are represented by Republicans.

The high court, however, rejected the lower-court finding that District 35 was improperly 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.



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