Obama administration urges Supreme Court to reject Texas legislature redistricting maps

[JURIST] The Obama administration, arguing as amicus curiae in Perry, et al. v. Perez, et al., pressed [brief, PDF] the US Supreme Court [official website] on Wednesday to reject a redistricting map drawn by the Texas legislature which was not cleared pursuant to Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) [Cornell LII backgrounder]. In its stead, the administration argued, the interim map drawn up by a three-judge panel from the US District Court for the Western District of Texas [official website] should be used:

[Texas] argues that there is no time for a remand and this Court therefore should designate the unprecleared maps as the interim maps [for the 2012 election]. Insofar as this Court is required to choose between either the State's unprecleared plans or the interim plans drawn below, it should select the latter. Even if the court-drawn plans may—pending further explanation—insufficiently adhere to state redistricting principles in certain respects, those plans are preferable to ones whose very use would contravene Section 5's preclearance regime and whose content violates Section 5 in purpose and effect.
The Obama administration opposes the state's map for the state house and for the state's congressional delegation in the US House of Representatives, but not the state senate map, even though minority groups are opposing all three maps. Oral argument for all three redistricting plans is set for January 9.

Earlier this month, the US Supreme Court agreed to rule [JURIST report] on the three Texas redistricting plans as part of an emergency appeal by Texas. According to the 2010 census, Texas' population grew by 4.3 million, which gave it four more seats in the US House of Representatives. The Republican-controlled state legislature redrew the congressional districts in a way that challengers claim would make it more likely for Republicans to win those new seats. The plan must be approved by either the Justice Department or a federal court under the VRA, and the Obama administration has objected to the plan. In the meantime, the federal court in Texas drew an "interim map" for use in the 2012 election. The interim map is the map currently being challenged before the Supreme Court.

 

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