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2013 Legislature Scrutinized in Texas’ Redistricting Trial

As the week-long trial on Texas’ redistricting battle nears its finish line, testimony Wednesday washed the 2013 Legislature — the body of lawmakers who adopted the court-drawn state House and congressional maps still in place — back to shore.

As the week-long trial on Texas’ redistricting battle nears its finish line, testimony Wednesday washed the 2013 Legislature — the body of lawmakers who adopted the court-drawn state House and congressional maps still in place — back to shore. Here’s what you need to know

• It’s been a legal squabble years in the making. Did the Republican-dominated Legislature in 2011 intentionally discriminate against Latino and black voters in redrawing the state’s House and congressional maps? That’s what the state of Texas and minority groups have gone back and forth over for six years. A panel of federal judges this spring ruled they did, but here’s the catch — those maps never took effect. Instead, the same judges created temporary maps before the 2012 elections, and with the backing of then-Attorney General Greg Abbott and Gov. Rick Perry, the Legislature in 2013 eventually adopted them.

• Some big-picture items: A couple things could happen if the judges find the state intentionally discriminated minority voters. For one, such a ruling could place Texas’ election laws back under the federal government’s watch — and the San Antonio court has previously ruled in a way that’s raised that possibility. More immediately, the state’s largest argument — that it can’t be knocked for following the court’s wisdom and adopting its temporary maps — would be weakened. 

• There’s still more to go. Republican lawmakers are expected to testify before the panel later this week, and the trial is set to end Friday or Saturday. Follow Texas Tribune reporter Jim Malewitz for updates out of San Antonio. 

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