Oral arguments of two Texas redistricting cases before the U.S. Supreme Court have been scheduled for April 24. The high court agreed to hear the cases in January after staying lower court decisions in September. Nearly a year ago, a federal three-judge panel invalidated two congressional and nine state House districts.
The high court has not yet released its decision on a partisan redistricting case from Wisconsin.
The timeframe sets up at least the possibility that districts could be ordered to be redrawn for the November general election, but there is no chance that new maps can be in place for the primary election, which puts primary results in potential peril.
In June 1996, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld lower court decisions invalidating three congressional districts. Importantly, the ruling permitted the district court to void primary results for 13 districts and order special elections be held concurrent with the general election for the court-drawn districts. New candidates, as well as candidates who were defeated in the primary elections, could file for the special election.
However, the timeline of the 1996 case was nearly six months ahead of the current case. Oral arguments for Bush v. Vera were held December 5, 1996, nearly a year before the eventual special election and more than five months ahead of the date Abbott v. Perez will be argued, relative to the election schedule. It took the high court more than six months to rule on the 1996 case, and the district court took nearly two months to draw new districts. Imposing that timeline on Abbott v. Perez pushes its impacts to 2020.
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