A sharply divided Supreme Court has blocked a lower court ruling that a congressional district map Texas adopted in 2013 violates the Constitution and is the product of intentional racial discrimination.
The high court announced Tuesday night that the justices voted, 5-4, along partisan lines to block a three-judge panel’s ruling that Texas needed to redraw the maps or face having them redrawn by the court.
The stay will remain in place until the Supreme Court receives and acts on an appeal expected to be filed by the State of Texas.
As is customary in such cases, the high court announced no reason or rationale for its action. The court’s five Republican-appointed justices voted to grant the stay, while the four Democratic-appointed justices voted to deny it.
The three-judge panel ruled, 2-1, in August that the drawing of two Texas Congressional districts, 27 and 35, violated both the Constitution and the Voting Rights Act. The panel issued a similar ruling on maps for the Texas state House of Representatives.
Justice Samuel Alito temporarily stayed both rulings last month at the request of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton while the high court considered what to do next in the cases.
Paxton applauded Tuesday’s ruling.
“The Supreme Court confirmed what the rest of us already knew: Texas should be able to use maps in 2018 that the district court itself adopted in 2012 and Texas used in the last three election cycles,” Paxton said in a statement. “In 2012 the Supreme Court ordered the district court to adopt lawful maps, and we believe it did so. We are eager to proceed with this case in the high court.”