Federal judge puts Texas redistricting maps on hold

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September 30, 2011

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By Jimmy Ardis

Texas: US District Judge Orlando Garcia stopped Texas's redistricting maps from becoming legally adopted yesterday. Garcia is one of three judges on a federal panel in San Antonio hearing a consolidated case consisting of numerous legal challenges to the state's 2011 redistricting plans. The case centers around allegations that the Republican-drawn maps lack proportionate representation for minority groups.[1] The court heard closing arguments in the case two weeks ago, but decided to delay its decision until a DC-based federal panel rules on a similar but separate case involving Voting Rights Act preclearance.

The court order was needed because the maps were set to become law on October 1st, and with no legal declaration yet to come down on either side, county election officials were in limbo. Democrats and other supporters of the suit against the state immediately claimed victory upon the court's order. Texas officials stated that the order was expected and neutral, contending that it simply restated the already known fact that the maps can't be implemented until precleared. A spokeswoman for the Texas Attorney General's office commented that “For the plaintiffs to somehow applaud this ruling as a win is like claiming victory at the end of the first quarter of a scoreless football game.”[1]

Candidates running for state senate and state house elections in 2012 are required to file for candidacy by December 12, 2011. If maps are not in place, that deadline could be in doubt.

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