Alito blocks redrawing of two House districts
U.S. Supreme Court justice blocks ruling on Texas U.S. House seats.
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito grants Texas’ request to delay reworking of two congressional districts.
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito on Monday temporarily blocked a lower court ruling requiring that two Texas congressional districts be redrawn because they discriminated against minority voters.
Responding to an appeal by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, Alito’s one-page order provided no reasons for the halt, saying only that the Aug. 15 ruling by the San Antonio-based threejudge court was blocked “pending receipt of a response” from lawyers for the civil rights groups, Democrats and minority voters who challenged the Texas congressional maps.
Alito said their response is due by Sept. 5 — the same day the three-judge court had scheduled a hearing in San Antonio to begin work on redrawing districts that include portions of Travis and Bastrop counties.
“We’re encouraged by Justice Alito’s decision today,” Paxton spokesman Marc Rylander said. “We remain hopeful that the entire court will allow Texas to continue to use the maps that were in place the last three election cycles.”
Alito, appointed by President George W. Bush and a member of the court’s conservative wing, acted alone as the justice in charge of matters arising from Texas.
Shortly after Alito’s order, the three-judge court issued an advi- sory saying the Sept. 5 hearing will continue.
“This court ... sees nothing in the order that would prohibit the parties from voluntarily exchanging their proposed remedial maps, conferring and attempting to reach an agreement or understanding on certain aspects of the remedial maps,” the advisory said.
Writing for the three-judge panel, U.S. District Judge Xavier Rodriguez added that continuing with the hearing would allow the case to be resumed quickly “in the event the stay is vacated by the Supreme Court.”
Both courts are operating under tight election deadlines.
With candidate filing beginning in mid-November for the 2018 primaries, Paxton’s office has said that final maps must be in place by Oct. 1 to avoid postponing the elections.
The lower court intended next week’s hearing to begin the work of redrawing two districts that were found to have been cre-