The U.S. Supreme Court has again thrown Texas’s new congressional map into a state of flux, temporarily blocking a court-drawn redistricting map late Friday and announcing that it would rule on the constitutionality of the map early next year.
The ruling is a win for Republicans who had sought to hold up the map of the state’s 36 congressional districts. The map was drawn by a three-judge panel after a map drawn by Texas Republicans got caught up in the courts.
The court also put a temporary hold on the state legislative districts drawn by the panel, and will decide on the constitutionality of those maps.
The Supreme Court has called for an expedited hearing and will hear arguments on Jan. 9.
The Texas GOP, which controls all levers of the decennial redistricting process in that state, originally drew a congressional map on which it was projected to gain three seats and Democrats one (the state is gaining four seats thanks to population growth).
But after the Justice Department announced it would challenge the map in court, a Washington, D.C., court ruled that a three-judge panel in San Antonio would draw an interim map for the 2012 election. That panel drew a map that was better for Democrats, adding three seats that were projected to go Democratic and one Republican.
Texas Republicans went to the U.S. Supreme Court to block the map, and they largely got what they wanted in the ruling Friday.
But the court’s ruling leads to much uncertainty in the 2012 election, as filing had already begun for the state’s March primary. It wasn’t immediately clear how candidates for the state’s congressional and state legislative seats would be able to proceed, given that both the Texas GOP’s maps and the panel-drawn maps have been held up.
The Supreme Court in 2006 ruled on another map drawn by Texas Republicans, ordering the re-drawing of part of the map.
For more, be sure to check out SCOTUSblog’s recap.