Speed Reads

SCOTUS interuptus

Divided 5-4 Supreme Court blocks redrawing of Texas congressional districts

On Tuesday night, the U.S. Supreme Court blocked an August ruling from a three-judge federal panel in San Antonio which had ordered Texas to redraw two congressional districts the court found to have unconstitutionally disenfranchised Latino and other minority voters. The Supreme Court's stay of the lower-court order, 5-4, was along ideological lines, and the conservative majority did not explain their decision. The high court also blocked a ruling from the lower court that invalidated nine Texas House districts also because GOP lawmakers had drawn them to "ensure Anglo control." The Supreme Court will weigh the merits of the Texas appeal sometime this term, probably in several months.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton had requested the stay, and the Supreme Court's approval means the 2018 midterms will be held using the contested districts. This is the latest wrinkle in a legal dispute over Texas' redistricting after the 2010 Census. Civil rights groups had challenged the map because none of the new districts, created because of the state's growing Latino population, were drawn favorably for minority candidates. Wednesday's win for the Texas Republicans breaks a month of setbacks, where two federal courts in four cases had ruled against the state on the legislative districts, its voter ID law, and assistance for voters who don't speak English as their first language.