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Supreme Court to enter tangled Texas redistricting case

The Supreme Court on Monday will hear arguments over whether federal judges overstepped their authority when they revised state and congressional districts drawn by the Texas Legislature.

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The Supreme Court is seen in Washington, May 3, 2011. The Supreme Court will hear arguments over whether federal judges overstepped their authority when they revised state and congressional districts drawn by the Texas Legislature.

Alex Brandon/AP/File

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A bitter dispute over minority voting rights in Texas arrives at the US Supreme Court on Monday where the justices must decide which legislative districts will be used in upcoming elections.

At issue is whether federal judges in San Antonio overstepped their authority when they took it upon themselves to redraw congressional and state house election districts without any prior judicial determination that maps drawn for that purpose by the Texas Legislature were illegal or unconstitutional. 

Texas officials object to using interim judge-drawn maps while election districts established by the state Legislature remain tied up in ongoing litigation.

With elections fast approaching, the Supreme Court is hearing on an expedited basis three consolidated cases that look at whether the judges' interim maps should be used or whether the judges should have relied more on the maps drawn by the Legislature. 

Meanwhile, a federal three-judge panel in Washington is set to consider whether the original maps drawn by the Texas Legislature should be given preclearance for use in the upcoming election – and future elections – or whether there are parts of that must be amended to comply with the Voting Rights Act and the Constitution. 

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