A panel of federal judges overseeing the long-running litigation over the state’s legislative and congressional districts has denied plaintiffs’ motions to put Texas back under a federal preclearance regime before making changes to districts or election laws. The Court determined that “the Court’s findings of intentional racial discrimination in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment with regard to the 2011 plans are sufficient to trigger bail-in,” but it decided “nothing further remains to be remedied,” despite having “grave concerns about the State’s past conduct.” It concluded, “it is time for this round of litigation to close.”

The Court cautioned that the state “must still comply” with the federal Voting Rights Act and the Fourteenth Amendment “even without being subject to preclearance.” The Court advised the state to “conduct its redistricting process openly, with the understanding that consideration of bail-in is always an option for whatever federal court or courts may be tasked with review of future legislative actions.”

The decision could mean Texas would be free to draw its legislative districts without seeking federal pre-approval for the first time in five decades.

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