Plaintiffs in the federal lawsuit aimed at stopping the Texas redistricting have asked the court to delay the start of the trial until after the Justice Department has finished its review.
The department has until Dec. 22 to complete its review.
U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Patrick Higginbotham -- one of three judges hearing lawsuit challenges to the redistricting plan -- last month said a trial would proceed even if Justice had not ruled.
Higginbotham said the court could withhold its own ruling pending the Justice Department action.
But Jose Garza, a lawyer for the League of United Latin American Citizens, at a pretrial hearing Tuesday told Higginbotham and Judge John Ward of Marshall that the new redistricting plan has no force of law until after it has received Justice Department pre-clearance.
"There is no valid plan on the ground," Garza said. "If there is no pre-clearance by Thursday, we would seriously urge the court to put off the trial."
Higginbotham received permission from the parties in the lawsuit to contact Justice officials to ask when they might rule.
Justice Department spokesman Jorge Martinez declined to comment on how quickly the review will be done.
"We're not going to have a comment on that. Our process is the same regardless of any court proceeding," Martinez said.
J. Gerald Hebert, a lawyer representing Democrats, said he would ask the court to halt the trial if Justice officials find fault with even a single district in the plan. He said there is not enough time before the primaries in March for the court to redraw districts to fix problems in the map.
Andy Taylor, a private lawyer representing the state, said Hebert was "putting the cart before the horse" because there has been no ruling from Justice.
Taylor said that even if there are Justice Department objections to the map, the federal court would have the legal authority to redraw those portions of the redistricting plan to fix the problems.
Lawyers for both sides said the trial will take about seven days, predicting a finish around Dec. 19.