Following the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling to uphold all but one of the state's political districts, a three-judge federal panel in San Antonio on Tuesday ordered that the state's maps should stay in place for this year's elections despite outstanding issues with House District 90.
The Tarrant County-based district was the sole exception the Supreme Court made in OK'ing the state's maps last week. That district, which is held by Democratic state Rep. Ramon Romero, was deemed an impermissible racial gerrymander because lawmakers illegally used race as the predominant factor in deciding its boundaries.
It's likely that opponents of the maps will push for the district to be redrawn, which could affect neighboring Republican-held districts. But as things stand now, the district will only be corrected in time for one election before it likely needs to be redrawn again after the 2020 census.
The San Antonio panel gave the state and the map’s challengers — civil rights groups, voters of color and Democratic lawmakers — until Aug. 6 to indicate to the court what changes, if any, should be made to HD-90. The court also issued a deadline of Aug. 29 for the parties to address any other issues that remain in this case.
The San Antonio panel’s Tuesday order is yet another victory for the state’s Republican leaders, who sought to keep Texas’ congressional and state House maps intact despite claims that the Republican-controlled Legislature purposefully discriminated against voters of color by enacting maps that dilute their voting power.
The Supreme Court last week pushed aside claims against the current maps, overturning rulings by the San Antonio panel in which it flagged two congressional districts and nine state House districts as problematic because they were drawn to undercut Hispanic and black voters, oftentimes to keep white incumbents in office.
The Supreme Court found that the evidence was "plainly insufficient" to prove that the 2013 Legislature acted in "bad faith” when it enacted the districts.