Supreme Court Rejects Interim Maps

Today, the U.S. Supreme Court threw out interim maps drawn by a Federal District Court in San Antonio. The Supreme Court opinion states that “appropriate standards,” may not have been followed when the interim maps were drawn. You can read the full decision here.
Conservative Justice Clarence Thomas wrote a separate opinion explaining his view that Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act is unconstitutional. In his opinion, the original maps passed by the Texas Legislature should be used even though they have been heavily criticized for disenfranchising Texas’ minority voters. Since none of the other Supreme Court Justices share Thomas’ opinion, the Court has ordered the San Antonio Court to start over. This time, the San Antonio Court is instructed to start with the maps passed by the Texas Legislature, making specific rulings on districts that may be nullified under the Voting Rights Act.
The basis of the ruling was that the San Antonio District Court did not have the right to disregard the maps passed through the Legislature in drawing new maps. The ruling states that the San Antonio Court must take guidance through the Legislature’s maps “unless they reflect aspects of the state plan that stand a reasonable probability of failing to gain” clearance in D.C.
Because of the makeup of the Supreme Court and the fact that the Legislative passed maps had not gone to pre-clearance, I’m not surprised by this decision. I remain hopeful that the final maps will be very similar to the interim maps. After all, the courts are still responsible for protecting the voting rights of all Texans under the Voting Rights Act and the Constitution.
I am also confident that the DC Court will not pre-clear the maps passed through the Legislature because they are not fair to the growing minority population, particularly the Hispanic population.