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Group Asks High Court to Stay Texas Elections to Congress

Sept. 6 (Bloomberg) -- Texas’s congressional elections should be postponed to stop the use of voter maps that are illegal, a Hispanic civil rights organization said in asking the U.S. Supreme Court to block the state’s election plans.

The League of United Latin American Citizens, known as LULAC, asked the court yesterday for an emergency order halting the congressional vote and urged the justices to order new maps that comply with a lower-court ruling to “ensure a lawfully elected congressional delegation is seated in January 2013.”

A panel of U.S. judges in San Antonio ruled Aug. 31 that the elections would proceed using interim maps they created by modifying districts the Republican-controlled Legislature drew up last year. Texas gained four congressional seats after the state’s population grew 4.3 million since 2000, according to the U.S Census.

The Legislature’s maps were ruled intentionally discriminatory and denied approval under the U.S. Voting Rights Act by a separate judicial panel in Washington last week. LULAC contends the interim maps incorporate too much of the original redistricting and are unenforceable.

The San Antonio court “has both a constitutional responsibility and the time to adopt its own alternative to govern the 2012 elections” and protect minority voting rights, Luis Roberto Vera Jr., a LULAC attorney, wrote in the Supreme Court filing.

‘New Districts’

The group also asked the San Antonio judges who created the maps to put the congressional election on hold. Texas could hold elections in all other races, including for U.S. president, as planned in November while the high court reviews the congressional maps, Vera said.

“The November elections should and will proceed as planned under the interim maps,” Lauren Bean, a spokeswoman for the Texas Attorney General’s office, said in an e-mail. “Nearly all parties, including many adverse to the state, agreed that elections would proceed using the interim maps. The state is confident that the U.S. Supreme Court will quickly deny LULAC’s request.”

In January, the Supreme Court, in an expedited appeal by Texas, ordered the San Antonio judges to use the Legislature’s districts as the starting point for any interim maps as long as they didn’t incorporate “any legal defects in the state plan.”

The case is Perez v. Perry, 5:11-cv-0360, U.S. District Court, Western District of Texas (San Antonio).

To contact the reporter on this story: Laurel Brubaker Calkins in Houston at laurel@calkins.us.com.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net.

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