Supreme Court Rules on Texas Redistricting

Texas Abbott v. Perez

This is the most protracted post-census 2010 litigation to date.  The original case challenged the Texas legislatures’ 2011 redistricting maps, but the litigation now centers around a new set of congressional and state legislative maps that Texas adopted in 2013. These “new” maps are actually closely based on the maps that the federal district court overseeing the litigation drew as interim maps under the Supreme Court’s guidance after it determined the initial interim maps went beyond the limited purpose of correcting legal deficiencies in the 2011 maps.

The issue before the Supreme Court this go round was whether the 2013 maps perpetuated the intentional discrimination and racial gerrymandering that the district court found in the original 2011 maps.  Texas argued that 2013 maps could not possibly be discriminatory if they are nearly identical to a federal court’s remedial map.  The plaintiff’s countered that the federal district court’s maps were in no way a complete resolution to the defects in the 2011 maps, indeed the litigation was so complex, the court was only able to rectify a portion of the invalid districts, thus some of the discriminatory boundaries remained in the interim map, which was never intended to be a final solution.

A majority opinion of the Supreme Court – with a vigorous dissent by Justice Sotomayor, agreed with Texas save for one house legislative district (district 90) based in Tarrant County.  HD 90 was the only district on the interim map that had actually been modified by the Texas Legislature before adopting the map.  The court found HD 90 to be an unconstitutional racial gerrymander because Texas admittedly drew it using race as the predominant factor in drawing its boundaries.  Texas had contended that the racial line-drawing was permissible in order to comply with section 2 of the Voting Rights Act; the court disagreed.

Read the opinion here.

Read the case analysis in Scotusblog.


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