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Texas Republicans get partial victory in district voting maps

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
January 22nd, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Texas Republicans won a partial victory by the Supreme Court over a partisan fight over election redistricting. The controversy began after a huge increase in the state's Hispanic population. The justices threw out a set of election maps that favored Democrats and minorities. The high court sent the case back to a lower court, forcing review as the 2012 primary election rapidly approaches in early April. 

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - In its first ruling on political boundary-drawing based on the 2010 U.S. Census, the justices unanimously rejected interim election maps that had been drawn up by federal judges in San Antonio.

It was ruled that the judges' maps didn't take into account an earlier set of maps that were drawn up by the Texas state legislature that favored Republicans.

The Texas judges must now redraw the maps for the primary contests set for this coming April 3, which will decide party candidates for congressional and state legislature elections in November.

It was a familiar refrain found in redistricting fights that unfold in states across the country every decade after a national census. Protecting the voting rights of millions of minorities and substantial political power are is at stake here in Texas.

"The Supreme Court's swift decision will allow Texas to move forward with elections as soon as possible under maps that are lawful," Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, a Republican, said.

The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, a civil rights group representing Hispanics said the ruling reaffirmed Texas' obligation to comply with the voting rights law. The group said it looked forward to further proceedings in San Antonio to secure fair interim maps.

Redrawing the Texas districts has been a large and significant political and legal battle. The state's population went up by more than 20 percent, or 4.2 million people, over the past decade, with Hispanics accounting for 2.8 million of the increase.

Texas got four new congressional seats following the 2010 census, giving it 36 in all. The legislature's plan, signed by Texas Governor Rick Perry -- who coincidentally dropped out of the Republican presidential race on Thursday -- created only one new heavily Hispanic district.

The Supreme Court, in the 11-page, unsigned opinion, said the judges in redrawing the new maps must be careful not to incorporate any legal defects from the legislature's plan.

A trial in that case is under way. That case and a different pending legal challenge in San Antonio are expected to determine the final maps to be used in Texas in future years.

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