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Texas Works to Halt Federally-Made Redistricting Maps

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbot will file an emergency stay application with the U.S. Supreme Court to halt the implementation of federally drawn maps that Texas law makers say are legally flawed. A federal panel consisting of three judges drew up the new maps following controversy over the representation of minority groups under state-made maps.

Attorney General Abbott, as well as other Texas officials, say the panel was in violation of the constitution and federal law and overstepped their bounds as the judiciary when they drew and implemented the maps. The Attorney General also maintained that a stay in the election process is needed because “elections should not proceed based on legally flawed maps that are likely to be overturned on further review,” something officials believe will happen when the maps come up against review.

Judge Jerry Smith of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals listed the reasons why the interim maps are unlawful and should be overturned.

  • “[T]he federal courts may not order the creation of majority-minority districts unless necessary to remedy a violation of federal law.” The majority opinion violated that tenet.
  • “[T]he interim phase is not the time for this court to impose the radical alterations in the Texas political landscape that the majority has now mandated.”
  • “[T]he majority ventures into other areas of the State and, as though sitting as a mini-legislature, engrafts its policy preferences statewide despite the fact that no such extreme modifications are required by the case law or by the facts that are before this court at this early stage before preclearance and remedial hearings.”
  • In emphasizing how the majority consistently ignores the law, Judge Smith points out that “the majority’s general approach of maximizing the drawing of minority opportunity districts that satisfy the Gingles preconditions was specifically rejected in Johnson v. De Grandy.”
  • The majority “engages in unconstitutional racial gerrymandering without section 2 as an even colorable legal justification.”
  • “There is no legal requirement to create coalition districts (and certainly not one like this), even for the Legislature, and it is surely not appropriate for a court that is fashioning only interim relief.”

Paul Clement, a highly acclaimed appellate lawyer, will represent Texas at the U.S. Supreme court during the hearing. He is a graduate of Harvard Law School and Supreme Court editor of the Harvard Law Review.

The filing period for precincts begins Monday, putting a short time clock on clarifying the districts.

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