High court urged to allow Texas election maps

Reuters News
Posted: Dec 01, 2011 6:23 PM
High court urged to allow Texas election maps

By James Vicini

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Texas Democratic Party and representatives of minority groups urged the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday to allow the use of an interim Texas map for congressional and legislative districts drawn by a panel of federal judges for the 2012 elections.

Attorneys for the state Democratic Party and for groups representing Hispanics and blacks said stopping use of the court-drawn maps would disrupt election preparations, result in voter confusion and cause turmoil.

They opposed the emergency request made earlier this week by Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, a Republican, for the Supreme Court to halt the court-drawn congressional and state legislative redistricting plans for elections next year.

The maps, which could lead to greater representation for minority candidates and Democrats, were drafted earlier this month after the minority groups challenged the original plans adopted by the Republican-dominated state Legislature.

Abbott argued that a federal district court panel in San Antonio erred by refusing to defer to the Legislature's plan, and that the wholesale revisions of the maps were unjustified.

Redrawing the Texas districts has become a major political and legal issue because of sharp growth over the past decade in the state's population.

Texas received four new congressional seats after the 2010 U.S. census, largely because of the rapidly growing Hispanic population. The state Legislature's plan created only one new heavily Hispanic district.

Candidates for the 2012 elections must file by December 15. The primary elections are scheduled for March 6.

Chad Dunn, a Texas Democratic Party lawyer, said in a filing with the Supreme Court the state's position would delay the election schedule, causing "massive disruption."

If the state prevailed, the primary election would be pushed back to May for those races in dispute in the litigation, he said.

Attorneys for the minority groups said in their filings that candidates were already campaigning under the interim map and that "voters would be left in limbo" if the redistricting plans were put on hold.

The Supreme Court is expected to decide the dispute soon.

The Supreme Court cases are Perry v. Perez, No 11-A520, Perry v. Davis, No. 11-A521, and Perry v. Perez, No. 11-A536.

(Reporting by James Vicini; Editing by Peter Cooney)