Supreme Court to hear whether state redistricting lawsuit can proceed

Here’s the update I’ve been waiting for. Not what I was hoping for, but it is what it is.

The state’s bid to toss a legal challenge arguing last year’s GOP-led redistricting effort violated the Texas Constitution is headed to the state Supreme Court, which accepted the case Friday.

The all-Republican Supreme Court set oral arguments on March 23, well after the March 1 primary election.

The Legislature’s GOP mapmakers last fall approved new political lines that could cement Republicans’ grip on power for the next decade and blunt the voting strength of nonwhite voters who fueled Texas’ population surge.

As federal lawsuits over the new maps pile up, some Democrats are focusing on fights in state court. In two combined cases, a group of mostly Democratic, Latino lawmakers from both chambers challenged the constitutionality of when and how Republicans drew the boundaries.

After two days of oral arguments in December, a three-judge state district court ruled against temporarily blocking the new legislative maps, but set a trial for January. Texas then appealed the court’s denial of its motions to dismiss the case, putting the trial on hold.

The lawmakers’ attorneys said they don’t seek to overturn the maps for the 2022 election cycle but argued for expedited resolution of the appeal “to allow sufficient time for the parties to litigate the merits before the 2023 legislative session.”

“For decades, MALC has defended the freedom to vote and equal access to the ballot box. We are not surprised that (Texas Attorney General) Ken Paxton would attempt to undermine our members and the millions of Texas voices they represent,” said state Rep. Rafael Anchia, chair of the Mexican American Legislative Caucus, one of the challengers against the maps.


The consolidated case was assigned to a special three-judge panel of Democrat Karin Crump and Republicans Emily Miskel and Ken Wise. If the state Supreme Court affirms the lower court’s decision, “the parties need sufficient time to return to the special three-judge district court, obtain a final judgment, and complete any appeal from that judgment,” the challengers said in a filing.

See here for the previous update. I’ve been scouring the news for the past two weeks because I knew that proposed trial date was coming up. I had not seen an item about the state’s appeal, so the lack of news about the trial was confusing to me – was this really not being covered, or was there a delay of some kind. Turns out it was the latter. Maybe if I’d spent more time on Twitter I might have seen something to that effect, but too much time on Twitter is its own hazard. Point is, this litigation will not derail the March primaries. Like the litigation over Harris County Commissioners Court redistricting, it may eventually end with a ruling that will force a change to the new maps, but it cannot and will not affect this election.

Anyway, so SCOTx will decide whether to toss the two combined lawsuits or to allow the trial to proceed. Hopefully they will do this in a timely manner, so that we might have a resolution in time for the 2023 legislature to address any remaining questions. Which, let’s be clear, could be a double-edged sword, though at least on the county line question it’s more likely to be good for Democrats if the plaintiffs win and the districts in Cameron County need to be redrawn. And speaking of timing, SCOTx accepted this appeal on the same day that they also accepted the SB8 litigation from the Fifth Circuit. Thanks, I hate it.

One more thing, on a side note:

That’s the Sen. Powell lawsuit. So there is still one thing that could throw a kink into the March primaries. I’ll keep an eye on that.

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4 Responses to Supreme Court to hear whether state redistricting lawsuit can proceed

  1. Flypusher says:

    An off-topic question, but this looks like the best place to ask it- anyone get their new voter cards yet? I realize that I haven’t gotten mine yet, and I wonder if that warrants any concern. I can’t remember exactly how early in the year I got the last one, so that’s why I’m asking.

    (I voted every chance I got the past two years, so no issues there concerning renewal.)

  2. mollusk says:

    I don’t have mine yet, and I’ve been registered at this address for a very long time. OTOH, I’m not particularly exercised about it because 1) all the poll workers have looked at lately is my drivers license since that’s what they scan, and 2) a quick check at harrisvotes confirmed that nobody has suddenly decided that I’m no longer eligible for whatever Lord unknown reason.

  3. voter_worker says:

    @Flypusher & mollusk There’s a two-year cycle for VR certificates. All Texas counties must mail a new one to every “A” (Active) status registered voter in their county, with a prescribed color (this year is light blue). Even-numbered years after a Legislative session are when this happens. The new certificates not only inform the voter of any precinct and district change, but also serve as the basis for voter roll maintenance. The certificates are not forwardable by the USPS, so all those that are undeliverable are returned to the EA and those voters are then mailed a forwardable confirmation letter. The response window is 30 days and failure to do a timely response will result in that voter being reclassified into the “S” (Suspense) category, where they will remain, until they update their address, for two Federal election cycles before being purged. This is the primary tool used by local Registrars to update voters who don’t voluntarily update their record when they move. Harris County has been presented with a very short time frame in which to input all the redistricting plans into their voter management system, revise and create new voting precincts, and then print and mail the over two million new certificates. I’m not surprised that they are experiencing a delay. Local media seems oblivious to this function of the County and almost never reports on it.

  4. Flypusher says:

    In my case I’m in Brazoria Co., and I’ve lived at my current address for over 23 years. But I could see a delay because of redistricting issues.

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