Al­ito blocks re­draw­ing of two House districts

U.S. Supreme Court jus­tice blocks rul­ing on Texas U.S. House seats.

Austin American-Statesman - - FRONT PAGE - By Chuck Lin­dell clin­dell@states­man.com Districts

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-

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