Supreme Court Puts Redrawing Of Texas Electoral Maps On Hold

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The order issued late Tuesday blocked a decision by the District Court for the Western District of Texas, which called for the districts to be redrawn.

Texas likely won't be forced to redraw electoral districts a court found were intentionally created to weaken the influence of minority voters before the 2018 midterm elections.

The U.S. Supreme Court has dealt a serious setback to those hoping Texas would see new congressional and House district maps ahead of the 2018 elections.

While the two orders did not identify who had granted Texas officials' pleas for delay of the redistricting processes, it took five votes to approve of each order, and the five dissenters were identified, thus making clear who had voted in the majority.

The court's four liberal justices, Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor, would have allowed the redrawing of the affected districts. After years of legal wrangling, Texans and the minority rights groups suing over the maps were finally set to hash out new maps in court last week, but those hearings were canceled as the Supreme Court asked for responses from the minority rights groups to the state's emergency request for the high court to intervene.

Two courts are considering whether the actions were meant to discourage African-American and Hispanic voters.

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The August decision and a similar ruling on the state legislative districts will both remain on hold, meaning no new districts will be drawn in the interim while the high court considers Texas' appeal in the cases.

The decision was yet another indication of the influence of President Donald Trump's nominee to the Supreme Court, Justice Neil Gorsuch, who joined the court in April. One law expert tells CNN, however, that "the 5-4 split indicates that the map's challengers may have a tough time before the Justices when the (Supreme) Court eventually hears this case".

The panel ruled that Texas' Congressional District 27, now held by Blake Farenthold, R-Corpus Christi, and District 35, now held by Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin, were drawn with discriminatory intent aimed at diluting minorities' voting strength.

With the 2018 elections looming, the Texas Attorney General's Office quickly appealed in an effort to keep existing political boundaries intact.

These actions have been strongly challenged by civil rights and minority rights groups, winning each time.

Legendary journalist Lyle Denniston has written for us as a contributor since June 2011 and has covered the Supreme Court since 1958.