A divided Supreme Court kept Texas' voting maps largely intact Monday, dealing an election-year blow to Democrats by reversing earlier findings that intentional racial discrimination continues to stain several statehouse and congressional districts. The 5-4 decision comes nine months after Democrats had celebrated lower court rulings that invalidated parts of Texas' electoral maps and a revised voter ID law. But the voter ID law was also restored in April, and Texas Republicans now have another key victory in long-running battles over voting rights in a state with a booming Hispanic population, per the AP. "Our legislative maps are legal. Democrats lost their redistricting & Voter ID claims," GOP Texas Gov. Greg Abbott tweeted. In another case Monday, the court declined to delve into a redistricting case in North Carolina, at least for the time being, notes Politico.
In August, a federal court in San Antonio agreed with Democrats and voting rights groups that electoral districts in Texas were tainted by earlier and intentionally discriminatory map lines first approved by the GOP-controlled Legislature in 2011. But Justice Samuel Alito said for the court's conservative majority that the lower court made a mistake by striking down two congressional and seven state house districts. (The high court struck down one safe Democratic House district in Fort Worth.) "We now hold that the three-judge court committed a fundamental legal error," Alito wrote. The lower court ignored evidence showing that the legislature adopted districting plans in 2013 mainly to try to end the litigation over the districts, Alito said. The liberal justices dissented. "The court today does great damage to that right of equal opportunity," Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote.
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