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High Court Decision Could Delay Primaries In April

The Supreme Court threw out court-drawn Texas redistricting maps, drawing mixed reaction from prominent Houston educators, and what that might mean for the upcoming primary elections.



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The High Court tossed out the Texas redistricting map for congressional and legislative seats that was drawn up by a federal court in San Antonio, and that gave a partial victory to GOP lawmakers. In an unsigned opinion, issued 11 days after holding oral arguments, the justices said a revised map that differed greatly from the one created by the legislature used ambiguous standards.

Bob Stein teaches political science at Rice University.

“There’ll probably be a lot more fallout from this, but most importantly, it may delay the election. The judges may take a longer or unknown and undefined amount of time, but it doesn’t seem like we’re gonna have a March primary, that’s relatively certain. It’ll be interesting to see what the San Antonio judges do and if there’s any more details in the decision. But everything I’ve read seems to suggest that the court was really unwilling to give any direction.”

At issue competing maps for the Texas state legislative and congressional districts created first by Republican lawmakers that favored their political base, and later by a federal judicial panel to give minorities greater voting power.

Professor Luis Salinas teaches sociology at UH. He says the ruling changes the dynamics in the primaries.

“The season for the primaries is going to be extremely shortened, and that helps the incumbents undoubtedly, but it doesn’t necessarily help other people, even with money. Other newcomers coming in, even with a lot of resources, are going to be at a disadvantage.”

Professor Salinas says the delay in the court decision could also handicap Latinos and minorities.

“Because if any of them wanted to take advantage of the new seats coming up, they don’t have the organization, the exposure the more experienced, seasoned candidates have.”

But Professor Gerald Treece at the South Texas College of Law thinks Texas won more than it lost in the Supreme Court decision. But the big question remains: people running for office and constituents in those districts need to know who their representative is, and the representative needs to know where to campaign.

“This professor predicts that the three judge voting rights panel will get the signal quickly. I’m still predicting that we can hold on to the April primary, based on this nudge by the U.S. Supreme Court against the federal court in San Antonio.”

Texas gains 4 new congressional seats based on the newly completed census and this ruling could help determine whether Democrats wrest control of the House of Representatives from the Republicans.