“The double standard is painfully obvious: when the court draws the maps, they are lawful; when the Texas Legislature adopts the very same maps, somehow they are not…”
AUSTIN – Attorney General Ken Paxton today commended Texas Solicitor General Scott Keller and a top lawyer for the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) after they presented powerful oral arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court in defense of Texas’ redistricting maps.
Last year, a three-judge panel of the U.S. District Court in San Antonio invalidated two of Texas’ 36 congressional districts (27 and 35) and multiple state House districts. Attorney General Paxton appealed the rulings to the high court, which blocked them from taking effect until it could hear the case today.
After today’s proceedings in Washington, D.C., Attorney General Paxton met with reporters outside the Supreme Court and issued the following statement:
“In 2012, a 9-0 U.S. Supreme Court ordered the U.S. District Court in San Antonio to draw interim maps ‘that do not violate the Constitution or the Voting Rights Act.’ The Supreme Court repeated that command to draw lawful maps six times in its opinion.
Once the district court had redrawn those maps in accordance with the Supreme Court’s directive, the district court explained in exhaustive detail how it satisfied every ‘plausible’ constitutional or statutory objection and the maps ‘were not purposefully discriminatory.’ Many people, including myself, assumed that the state was putting the issue to rest when the Texas Legislature adopted the maps that the district court had drawn.
“The double standard is painfully obvious: when the court draws the maps, they are lawful; when the Texas Legislature adopts the very same maps, somehow they are not.
“The district court in Texas trampled on law and logic alike in order to wrest from the people of Texas their authority – through their duly elected representatives – to control their legislative districts. Indeed, when the district court invalidated its own maps last year, the court gave the state a very small window of three days to convene the Legislature to start to draw new maps or else submit to yet another court-imposed plan.
“I appreciate that the Supreme Court granted a stay and heard our case. Solicitor General Keller and the DOJ presented powerful oral arguments in defense of Texas’ redistricting maps, and I anticipate a favorable decision.”
Because the redistricting case involved two rulings, the Supreme Court expanded oral arguments at today’s hearing to 35 minutes for each side. Solicitor General Keller argued Texas’ side for 25 minutes and yielded the remainder of his time to a top lawyer for the DOJ, which asked Attorney General Paxton for the opportunity to join in defending the state.
When the Supreme Court put the lower court decisions on hold last September, it meant that no changes to Texas’ redistricting maps would be made ahead of the midterm elections. Attorney General Paxton argued at the time that allowing maps to be redrawn would throw “the Texas election deadlines into chaos for the second time this decade.” A decision from the high court is expected this summer.