Texas had been scheduled to conduct its primary election on so-called Super Tuesday – March 6. But escalating legal battles have forced state officials to push the vote date back to April 3.
Now, with the Supreme Court involved, even that date may be in jeopardy.
The case is significant because how election districts are apportioned can alter who is elected in each district. The case involves disputed maps for election districts for the Texas state Senate and House, and for members of Congress.
The election maps produced by the Republican-controlled Texas Legislature favored Republican candidates. In contrast, the maps drawn by the federal judges undercut many of those Republican preferences.
The legal case isn’t about which party may or may not gain an advantage in election district line-drawing. Politicians care about that; judges should not. The central issue for the courts is whether maps drawn by state lawmakers comply with the requirements of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and with constitutional guarantees of one person, one vote.
Because Texas has a history of racial discrimination in elections, the Voting Rights Act requires the state to obtain prior approval from Washington before enacting any changes in its voting process – including drawing new election districts.
Texas sought approval last summer, but that process has bogged down. At the same time, several minority groups and candidates filed lawsuits in San Antonio objecting to Texas’ proposed new election districts. The minority groups alleged that the newly drawn districts seek to dilute the growing political clout of Latino voters in Texas.
The minority groups asked the three-judge panel in San Antonio to designate interim election maps to be used in lieu of the state’s maps as litigation over redistricting is sorted out in the courts. Two of the three judges agreed and produced new maps, significantly changing the districts drawn by the Texas Legislature.