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Texas Redistricting Map Going to Federal Trial

The Texas Congressional map is headed to trial, ensuring a federal court in San Antonio will redraw House district boundaries for the 2012 primaries.

The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled against the Lone Star State’s request for a summary judgment Tuesday, delivering a decisive blow to Texas Republicans hoping for swift approval.

A federal three-judge panel wrote Texas “used an improper standard or methodology” to determine minority representation in their redraw, and “there are material issues of fact in dispute that prevent this Court from entering declaratory judgment” on if the map adheres to the Voting Rights Act.

Texas is one of several states that requires preclearance from the Department of Justice before making any changes to its voting laws, including its new Congressional maps. But instead of asking the Justice Department to approve their new map, Texas officials went straight to federal court last summer — a decision that has prolonged the process.

Anticipating lengthy legal proceedings, a federal court in San Antonio already began to draw temporary maps for the 2012 primaries. House candidates must file by early December for the scheduled March primary.

Explosive population growth in Texas caused the state to pick up four new House seats in reapportionment. Texas Republicans drew, and Gov. Rick Perry (R) signed, an aggressive new Congressional map that solidified many of their recent gains, plus included a few new GOP dominant districts.

Most of the state’s population increase came from the Hispanic community. The Justice Department argues that Texas mapmakers disregarded this in their redraw, even dialing back minority voting power under the passed map.

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