Sunday, November 27, 2011

Texas to Appeal Court-Drawn Districts to Supreme Court

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott announced that he'll file an emergency stay application with the Supreme Court on Monday to halt the implementation of redistricting maps drawn by a three-judge panel of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas.  AG Abbott also announced that Bush Administration SG Paul Clement has joined the Texas legal team.

Recall that a three-judge district court in D.C. denied preclearance under the Voting Rights Act to Texas's redistricting plans for its U.S. House districts and Texas legislative districts.  The ruling sent the case to the Western District of Texas to designate a substitute interim plan for the 2012 elections.

The three-judge panel of the Western District drew proposed maps earlier this month.  The panel split on the Texas House districts, with Judge Orlando Garcia and Judge Xavier Rodriguez voting for one plan and Judge Jerry Smith of the Fifth Circuit voting for another.  The court on Friday denied Texas's motion to stay implementation pending appeal, again dividing 2-1.  AG Abbott then announced on Saturday that he'd file with the Supreme Court.

From AG Abbott's press release:

At issue is whether the interim maps imposed by a three-judge redistricting panel violate the U.S. Constitution and federal law, and exceeds the proper role of the judiciary.  The State of Texas alleges the panel improperly rejected the will of the elected legislature and redrew the State's House and Senate districts without regard to any established legal or constitutional principles. . . . .

Because the legally flawed maps could create confusion for Texans who wish to become candidates when the filing period opens Monday, the State of Texas is pushing quickly to restore clarity to the process. . . . .

The balance of the release largely quotes from Judge Smith's dissent.

We'll post on AG Abbott's filing on Monday.  ElectionLaw@Moritz collects the litigation documents here.  Check out the maps for yourself here.

SDS

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