Texas is appealing a federal court decision that denied preclearance to legislatively drawn redistricting maps, saying the court overstepped its authority under the federal Voting Rights Act, Attorney General Greg Abbott announced late Friday.
That appeal won't affect the current election.
The maps for congressional and legislative races were drawn last year by the Legislature. Federal law allows the state to go to either the Department of Justice or the federal courts for permission to use the maps in elections — that's a legal provision that applies only to Texas and other states with a history of racial discrimination in elections — and Abbott chose to go to the courts.
Earlier this year — after the elections were under way — that court decided that the new maps intentionally discriminated against voting minorities in the state; it's that ruling that Abbott is appealing. (Here's a copy of the full filing.)
While that was in the works, a separate three-judge federal panel operating out of San Antonio drew maps for use in the current elections, and those are being used now. Abbott is hoping to free the Legislature's preferred maps for future elections, and that's why he's appealing the ruling. His office issued a statement:
The State of Texas is appealing this case because the lower court improperly extended the Voting Rights Act beyond the limits imposed by the Constitution and created new standards that have never been recognized by the U.S. Supreme Court. The maps enacted by the Texas Legislature satisfy all necessary legal requirements, so the judges in Washington, D.C. simply created new requirements in an attempt to justify their rejection of Texas' maps. In order to ensure the Texas Legislature's maps apply to the next election cycle, the State is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case and override the lower court's flawed decision during the Court's current term.