A federal court has denied a request by a group of Texas Democrats seeking to temporarily delay the state’s March 1 primary over what they claim are discriminatory redistricting maps.
On Monday, a three-judge panel sided with the state, denying a motion to postpone the primary elections while the case is being decided.
State Sen. Beverly Powell (D–Burleson) is among dozens of Democrats and allied organizations challenging the newly redrawn boundaries of state Senate District 10 in North Texas, which Powell represents.
Powell and other plaintiffs claim the new district boundaries approved last year by the Republican-controlled Legislature intentionally discriminate against minority voters, violating the Voting Rights Act and the U.S. Constitution.
Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act prohibits any voting practice, including redistricting, that discriminates on the basis of race, color, or membership in a language minority group.
But partisan redistricting, where voting boundaries are drawn to favor one political party, was determined by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2019 to be beyond the purview of federal courts.
The state said its redrawing of SD 10 to favor Republican candidates was “a partisan exercise devoid of racial considerations or motivations.”
Prior to Monday’s ruling, Texas argued “a preliminary injunction is not in the public interest because primary elections in Texas are already underway and a preliminary injunction at this stage in the election cycle would fly in the face of the Supreme Court’s admonishment that ‘lower federal courts should ordinarily not alter the election rules on the eve of an election.’”
The new district boundaries will be used for the 2022 election cycle, but a court may order them to be revised for future elections.
The court has consolidated multiple redistricting challenges into a single case.
Plaintiffs include the League of United Latin American Voters (LULAC), the Mexican American Legislative Caucus (MALC), the Texas NAACP, Fair Maps Texas Action Committee (featuring Texas arms of the left-leaning ACLU, Common Cause, and League of Women Voters), and the Biden administration.
Early voting in the March 1 primary starts February 14.