US Supreme Court rejects contestation of Republican-drawn Texas constituency

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By Andrew Chung

(Reuters) – The US Supreme Court on Monday rejected an appeal by black and Hispanic voters accusing the Republican-led Texas legislature of deliberately redrawing a Senate district to reduce their political clout. the state.

The justices declined to review a ruling by a three-judge panel of the federal district court that denied an injunction against the reconfigured senate district sought by the challengers. Prosecutors have argued that the district’s redrawn boundaries resulted from deliberate racial discrimination against them, which violated the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection under the law.

The dispute centers on a state senate district that includes part of the city of Fort Worth in north central Texas.

The district is currently owned by Democratic Senator Beverly Powell. But last April, she dropped her re-election bid, calling the race “unwinnable” because of how the legislature had redrawn the district’s boundaries. Following the November 8 election, the newly configured district will be represented by Republican Phil King, who ran unopposed.

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Black and Hispanic plaintiffs sued after the Texas legislature approved new 2021 election maps. They argued they were “splintered” into other Senate districts where they will be “overwhelmed” by white voters.

While Powell’s senatorial district was previously limited to a single county, it is now spread across seven others that the three-judge panel says are “primarily populated by rural Anglos who tend to vote Republican by a large margin.”

Redistribution, which is conducted every decade after the completion of the US Census, is an increasingly controversial process in the United States. It is usually controlled by politicians already in office who can draw lines for partisan gain.

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The Supreme Court in 2019 blocked federal courts from adjudicating claims of so-called partisan gerrymandering, a practice that critics say distorts democracy by designing constituencies to reduce the voting rights of some voters and increase the influence of others.

The Texas case represents one of many legal challenges to reconfiguring election maps across the country.

The Supreme Court will hear arguments Dec. 7 in a major case that could prevent state courts from second-guessing state legislatures’ rules and cards for federal elections.

The Texas lawsuit is one of many consolidated before the three-judge panel. President Joe Biden’s administration sued Texas last December over the new maps. The panel denied an injunction that would have blocked the use of the newly devised district boundaries. In its ruling last May, the panel agreed that given racially polarized voting patterns, the new map has a disproportionate impact, resulting in “the loss of a seat in which minorities could choose candidates they preferred.”

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But the court said there was no direct evidence that the legislature was motivated by an intent to commit racial discrimination.

In their appeal to the Supreme Court, the plaintiffs said a resolution was needed before the 2024 election.

(Reporting by Andrew Chung in New York; editing by Will Dunham)

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