Supreme Court to Hear Texas Election District Case

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Supreme Court to Hear Texas Election District Case

Postby shayeyp6shx » 11 Dec 2011, 04:28

The court stayed orders from a special three-judge court in San Antonio, which issued electoral maps late last month that seemed to help Democrats and Hispanic voters. “This thrusts the Supreme Court right into the partisan thicket,” said Richard L. Hasen, an election law expert at the University of California, Irvine. “It is no exaggeration to say that with three or four additional Democratic seats at issue under the original court-drawn plan, the decision could help decide control of the House.” The special court acted after maps drawn by the state Legislature failed to gain prompt approval from a different three-judge court, in Washington. The court-drawn map could deliver as many as four additional Congressional seats to Democratic candidates and seems to increase the number of opportunities for Hispanic voters to elect candidates of their choice. The justices, who issued the decision at around 7 p.m. without noted dissents, ordered the parties to file briefs on a brisk schedule, and they will hear arguments in an afternoon session on Jan. 9. The Supreme Court must move quickly if next year’s primary and general elections are to proceed in an orderly way. Friday’s order did not say ray-ban what election officials in Texas are supposed to do in the meantime. Primaries are scheduled for March, and candidates have been filing under the court-drawn maps. In choosing between the two sets of maps, or aspects of them, the Supreme Court is likely to provide important guidance on the role of the federal courts under the Voting Rights Act of 1965, one of the crowning achievements of the civil rights movement. Section 5 of the law requires Texas and other jurisdictions with a history of discrimination to seek federal permission to make even minor changes to voting procedures. The changes to the electoral maps were anything but minor, a testament to Texas’s booming population growth, particularly among Hispanics. The state grew by more than four million people in the last decade, and about 65 percent of that growth came in the Hispanic population. The growth entitled the state to four additional Congressional seats. The Texas Legislature enacted new maps in May and June, and Gov. Rick Perry signed them into law in July. Under Section 5, though, the maps may not be used until they are approved, or “pre-cleared,” by either the Justice Department or a special three-judge court in Washington. Texas officials lunettes de soleil de star chose to go to court. The court rejected the state’s request for summary judgment, saying officials there had used “an improper standard or methodology to determine which districts afford minority voters to elect their preferred candidates of choice.” Instead, the court in Washington said a trial would be necessary. In the meantime, it said, a second three-judge court, this one in San Antonio, “must designate a substitute interim plan for the 2012 ray ban wayfarer pas cher election cycle by the end of November.” Late last month, a majority of the San Antonio court did so in a series of decisions, drawing a blistering dissent from Judge Jerry Smith of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, in New Orleans. As for the Congressional maps, Judge Smith faulted the San Antonio majority for redrawing all 36 districts, though the Justice Department in the Washington case had objected to only 2. The question for the justices is how much deference the San Antonio court should have given to the maps drawn by the Legislature. On the one hand, state laws are generally thought presumptively valid until shown otherwise. Moreover, the Supreme Court has said that in cases involving administrative pre-clearance by the Justice Department — as opposed to pre-clearance from a court, as here — courts should defer to those portions of maps to which the department did not object. On the other hand, Section 5 upends the usual presumptions about the validity of state laws. Since the court in Washington has not yet pre-cleared maps drawn by the Legislature, there is no valid plan under Section 5. That not only justified but required interim plans drawn from scratch, the majority in San Antonio said.
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