Supreme Court discusses congressional redistricting in South Texas

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The case dates back to 2011, when Texas's legislature, controlled by Republicans, first redrew maps in an effort to help the party. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton says the maps are not discriminatory and his office appealed to the Supreme Court.

Minority advocacy groups did not like those 2011 maps, and said they were deliberately created to negatively affect African American and Latino voters.

Last year, the lower court panel of three judges found that the Texas district map "intentionally diluted the Latino vote" according to ABC News.

"The double-standard is painfully obvious: When the court draws the maps, they are lawful; when the Texas Legislature adopts the very same maps, somehow they are not", Paxton said. In their appeal to the Supreme Court, lawyers representing Texas have argued their most recently-crafted maps must be upheld as constitutional insofar as they are similar to the interim maps ordered into effect by the lower courts in 2012. He said the Legislature was acting in good faith to resolve the litigation by adopting a map it believed the court would surely approve.

"Let's respect the Voting Rights Act, let's eliminate our past vestitures of discrimination, let's welcome the opportunity of diversity in this nation", a passionate Lee told reporters on the steps of the Supreme Court.

Those arguments revolved around the district court's findings of discriminatory intent in how Texas drew the maps.

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While no clear direction on the decision emerged from Tuesday's arguments, conservative members of the court seemed to side with Roberts in favor of the state in a case that could end up split along ideological lines. It had planned to hold a hearing on remedial plans in September, until Texas sought the intervention of the Supreme Court, prompting Tuesday's hearing.

While 11 political districts are on the line, the U.S. Supreme Court could weigh in on how much say voters of color have in electing who represents them.

"While redistricting is what we are dealing with. there's an entire environment of intentional discrimination that we've seen in the State of Texas", said Anchia, who attended the court session. "Gerrymandering is probably the most powerful tool in the kit of voter disenfranchisement". The litigation, however, continued, and the San Antonio court handed down decisions in 2017 finding that both the 2011 map and the 2013 map were illegal. But they had to grapple with how to redraw the political maps to account for the state's growth when demographics were shifting against them.

One of the congressional districts under challenge in Texas is District 27, which was recently vacated by Corpus Christi Republican Blake Farenthold, who resigned amid a flurry of sexual harassment allegations.

The other is Congressional District 35, a heavily-Hispanic stretch running from Austin to San Antonio represented by Democrat Lloyd Doggett. The 11 districts in question in the case include two congressional districts and nine state House districts. However, the question before the High Court is whether the Texas districts violate the Voting Rights Act by diluting the votes of minorities in Texas.

With a Supreme Court ruling unlikely much before the end of June, along with the possibility of further proceedings by the lower courts, the challengers to Texas' political maps say time is running out on the prospect of any resolution in time for the November 6 midterm elections. "It seems to me, the piece of paper says, 'Come to court.' Now if we're going to call that a grant of injunction, we're going to hear 50,000 appeals from the 93 - however many three-judge courts there are". If the Court does it is noteworthy that Justice Kennedy didn't ask questions of any of the attorneys arguing about the merits of the case.

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