Supreme Court blocks rulings forcing Texas to redraw districts

Supreme Court blocks rulings forcing Texas to redraw districts

In two brief rulings issued late Tuesday, the court's newly conservative majority sided with Justice Samuel Alito, who had ordered a preliminary pause on these dual rulings last week. The Supreme Court will weigh the merits of the Texas appeal sometime this term, probably in several months.

The 5-to-4 ruling nearly surely means the 2018 elections will be conducted in the disputed congressional and legislative districts. The identified dissenters were Justices Stephen G. Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor. A voting rights attorney representing the case's challengers says she is disappointed by the decision but hopes the court later "realizes that Texas sought to purposefully minimize the political power of voters of color". The court action follows a temporary stay granted by Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. on August 28. Election officials in Texas have said they would need new maps by October if the state wanted to update them before the coming 2018 elections.

Another peculiar aspect of the cases, according to Texas's lawyers, was that the maps that were found to be discriminatory had actually been crafted by the federal court itself, and then largely adopted by the legislature - and yet the three judges had struck them down anyway as discriminatory. 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. One law expert tells CNN, however, that "the 5-4 split indicates that the map's challengers may have a tough time before the Justices when the (Supreme) Court eventually hears this case".

More news: Philippine congress sharply cuts rights body's budget

A closely divided Supreme Court ruled in favor of the state of Texas on Tuesday night, freezing a lower court opinion that had invalidated two congressional districts and state house districts in four counties.

Legendary journalist Lyle Denniston has written for us as a contributor since June 2011 and has covered the Supreme Court since 1958.

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