Published: Wed, September 13, 2017
World | By Paul Elliott

Divided 5-4 Supreme Court blocks redrawing of Texas congressional districts

Divided 5-4 Supreme Court blocks redrawing of Texas congressional districts

The 5-to-4 ruling nearly surely means the 2018 elections will be conducted in the disputed congressional and legislative districts.

The orders - the one on congressional districting is here, the one on redrawing districts for the lower chamber of the state legislature is here - contained no explanation for blocking the trial courts' decisions. But now Texas will have to wait at least until October, when the Supreme Court is back in session, for approval (or not) to redraw the contested districts.

Thus, the majority included Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., and Justices Samuel A. Alito, Jr., Neil M. Gorsuch, Anthony M. Kennedy and Clarence Thomas.

But the court's liberals - Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan - signaled their unhappiness by noting they would not have agreed to Texas' request. The court action follows a temporary stay granted by Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. on August 28.

Two courts are considering whether the actions were meant to discourage African-American and Hispanic voters. The lower court had given the Texas governor three days to decide whether to call a special legislative session and said the state should be ready start work on redrawing the districts by September 5.

In a 2-1 decision, a three-judge panel ruled in August that two Texas congressional districts and state house districts in four counties discriminated against minority voters, who typically vote for Democrats, and therefore violated the Constitution and Voting Rights Act, per CNN.

"However, we look forward to voters in Texas and the court below being vindicated when the Supreme Court hears all the facts in this case and realizes that Texas sought to purposefully minimize the political power of voters of color", she added. Even so, the Justices may not actually receive the Texas appeals for several weeks, and may not take initial action on them until later this year at the earliest. So far, only the redistricting cases have reached the Supreme Court in any form.

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