In Blow to Democrats, Supreme Court Knocks Down Texas Voting Map

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Andrew Harrer / Bloomberg / Getty Images

The Supreme Court building stands in Washington, Nov. 7, 2011.

Just in time for the renewed talk of a protracted GOP primary fight, the Supreme Court of the United States has crushed a revised redistricting map in Texas and unanimously ordered a lower court in San Antonio to come up with a new map based closely on the one produced by the state’s GOP legislature last summer.

The 9-0 ruling is a blow to Texas Democrats. The San Antonio court had come up with a very Dem-friendly map when it rejected the GOP map in November, arguing that the original Republican version under-represented Hispanics. Now that lower court will have to adhere more closely to the maps the Republicans drew. With four new congressional seats that Texas gained in the 2010 census awaiting accommodation, there’s much at stake. Control of the House of Representatives next year could hinge on the ultimate winners of those four new seats.

If Democrats are losing the Congressional side of the fight, they may find solace in the implications of the Supreme Court’s decision for the GOP presidential primary. Time is running out for the courts to produce a voting map that can be used for the scheduled April primary, which was already pushed back from March 6. The Supreme Court told the San Antonio court it would have to come up with a new map by Feb. 1 to allow enough time for the April vote to go ahead. It’s not hard to imagine that a continuing court fight over the maps could push the Texas vote back to May or June. Though Mitt Romney is still the prohibitive favorite and could effectively secure the Republican nomination with a win on Saturday in South Carolina and a substantial win in Florida on Jan. 31, if Gingrich is able to overtake him, pushing Texas back a few months could drag out a bloody GOP battle, draining GOP resources.

Scotusblog has a wrap-up of the opinion here. The opinion itself can be found here [PDF].