Less than a week after a federal judge ruled Galveston County’s precinct maps violated the Voting Rights Act, the U.S Fifth Circuit Court issued a stay on the order.
U.S. Circuit Court Judge Jeffery V. Brown ruled Oct. 13 that a newly drawn Galveston County commissioner’s precinct map denied Black and Latino voters an equal opportunity to select a candidate of their choice.
But on Wednesday, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a stay on Brown’s order until Nov. 2, the day after the county was supposed to present its newly proposed map to Judge Brown. This original deadline was to ensure a new map would be in place before the window for applicants to apply for the 2024 Galveston County Commissioner’s Court election opened on Nov. 11. It is currently unclear how the stay will impact the deadline.
This lawsuit was the first test of section 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 since the Supreme Court upheld it in June in regard to the redistricting of Alabama’s congressional maps. This section prohibits voting practices or procedures that discriminate on the basis of race or color.
See here for the background. The trial judge denied an emergency motion to stay the injunction before the Fifth Circuit stepped in. They have now set a date of November 7 for oral arguments on the “emergency” appeal (they used quotes in their order), with the stay on the injunction to last through November 10. The timing here is key, because the filing deadline for the 2024 primary is December 11, so if the injunction is not restored by then, the new map will be used. I can’t say there’s any reason for optimism. Democracy Docket has more.