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Federal judge sets deadline for proposing changes to Texas redistricting plan

[JURIST] A panel of federal judges in Texas has given parties to a lawsuit over Texas' congressional district two weeks to propose a solution [order, PDF] to the 2003 Texas redistricting plan [official website] for the 23rd Congressional District, which the US Supreme Court [official website] scrapped [JURIST report] on Wednesday. US District Judge T. John Ward of the Eastern District of Texas [official website] set a deadline of July 14 for new proposals and scheduled oral arguments for August 3. The Supreme Court ruled in League of United Latin American Citizens v. Perry [Duke Law case backgrounder; JURIST report] and three other consolidated cases that the "redrawing of District 23's lines amounts to vote dilution violative" of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act [DOJ backgrounder]. The Court, however, upheld the new voting districts for all of the other challenged districts.

Opponents of the redistricting plan had also challenged the validity of the plan [case materials], which allowed Republicans to gain six seats in Congress in the 2004 election, and accused the Texas legislature of drawing oddly shaped districts solely to protect Republican interests, but the Supreme Court ruled that the plaintiffs failed to state a sufficient claim of partisan gerrymandering. They also declined to resolve a dispute over whether partisan gerrymandering claims present nonjusticiable political questions. AP has more. The Houston Chronicle has local coverage.

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