The conservative wing of the Roberts Court has made it clear it would like to take a bite at this part of the Voting Rights Act, and this could be their case to do so. On Friday the Supreme Court blocked a Texas redistricting plan drawn by a panel of federal judges, throwing the Roberts Court deep into a partisan battle over how the state’s electoral maps should change to recognizing Texas’ changing demographics.
Like many other states, the battle over how congressional districts will be drawn has taken over Texas. The Republican controlled legislature proposed a map that failed to satisfy the Voting Right Act “pre-clearance” requirement. Pre-clearance demands that several southern states with a history of intentional and purposeful minority disenfranchisement pre-clear any proposed changes to electoral maps with the Department of Justice. A federal court in Washington denied Texas’ initial request for approval and instead will hold a trial on claims that the legislature’s electoral map dilutes minority political power.
In the immediate, the move by the Supreme Court throws a wrench into the upcoming elections. Candidates had already begun to register and run under the districts drawn by the panel of federal judges, and the state’s March primaries will likely be delayed.
The aggressive push to gerrymander political power through redistricting is but one part of a larger conservative agenda to diminish democratic participation via restrictive voter ID laws. The Roberts Court has been quick to embrace voter restrictions so there’s plenty of reasons to think they’ll do so here as well.
Photo from hjl via flickr.