Texas can use voter maps approved by Governor Rick Perry this year to avoid delaying the state’s 2014 congressional elections, a federal court ruled.
The three-judge panel in San Antonio granted Texas the right to use the 2013 maps on an interim basis only. The judges added the latest maps to a 2011 lawsuit by voting-rights activists challenging Texas election boundaries as biased against minorities.
“A full, fair and final review of all issues before this court cannot be completed prior to the upcoming deadlines for the 2014 elections,” the judges said in the ruling. The earliest deadlines in the 2014 election cycle are next week, according to court records.
Opponents claim maps approved by Perry in June, shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a key provision of the Voting Rights Act, disenfranchise black and Hispanic voters.
Texas contends its Republican-controlled legislature is legally permitted to draw election boundaries that disadvantage political opponents.
“Texas has prevailed each time the redistricting litigation has reached the Supreme Court and remains confident that the legislature’s maps will be vindicated, either at the San Antonio federal district court or at the U.S. Supreme Court, if necessary,” Lauren Bean, a spokeswoman for the Texas Attorney General’s office, said in a statement.
Texas gained four new congressional seats after the 2010 U.S. census found the state had added more than 4 million residents. About 90 percent of the new residents are minorities, who tend to vote more often for Democrats.