Supreme Court puts redrawing of Texas political maps on hold

The Supreme Court of the United States in Washington D.C

Justices voted 5-to-4 to put on hold a lower court order to redraw some congressional and legislative districts, which were found to have discriminated against voters of color. Those orders will stay in effect until the Justices finish whatever action they ultimately decide to take on the state's coming appeals, which are nearly certain to be accepted for review by the Justices.

The divided court's liberal justices, Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor all dissented the decision, in an effort to allow the districts to be redrawn. The high court could also choose to delay the March primary elections. The dissenters, like the majority, did not explain their votes.

The August decision and a similar ruling on the state legislative districts will both remain on hold, meaning no new districts will be drawn in the interim while the high court considers Texas' appeal in the cases. The decision highlights the new influence that Justice Neil Gorsuch, President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee, has on tipping the court's scales to the conservative right. Even so, in asking for postponements, state officials told the Supreme Court that the trial court's actions amounted to binding orders to move ahead on drawing new replacements for the districts where it had found intentional bias against Latino or black voters.

The justices gave no reasons in their one-paragraph statement granting a request from Texas that it not be forced to draw new districts until the Supreme Court reviewed the lower court's decision.

The congressional districts in question are CD-27 in Nueces County, where Hispanic voters were "intentionally deprived of their opportunity to elect a candidate of their choice", and CD-35 in Central Texas, which was deemed illegally drawn because lawmakers used race as the predominant factor in deciding its boundaries.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton called the rulings "outrageous" and "astonishing". So far, only the redistricting cases have reached the Supreme Court in any form.

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