Supreme Court Refuses to Act on Texas County Map Voting Rights Case

( – The Voting Rights Act is a federal law that prohibits racial discrimination in voting in the United States. That law, although still in effect, was weakened by the Supreme Court in 2013, invalidating key provisions requiring federal oversight of voting changes in certain areas with a history of discrimination. Since then, many states and regions within those states have redrawn voting maps in a way that many believe disenfranchises minority groups. Recently, the Supreme Court weighed in on another such case in Texas.

On December 12, SCOTUS refused to intervene in a voting rights issue in Galveston County, Texas. The issue involves a commissioner’s map for the county redrawn by Republicans, eliminating a predominantly minority precinct. Terry Petteway, a voter who lives in the area, said the new maps strip Black and Latino voters from choosing candidates that represent their communities.

Initially, a district court agreed, blocking the map from going into effect, stating it violated Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, calling for a new map before the 2024 presidential election. US District Court Judge Jeffrey Vincent Brown said in his ruling that the map “denies Black and Latino voters an equal opportunity to participate in the political process.” However, an appeal to the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals stopped the district court ruling, saying the appellate court would look into the matter more thoroughly in May 2024. So, the matter went to the US Supreme Court in hopes that the justices would agree with the district court ruling and force Galveston officials to draw a new map. The court refused to hear the case, so the Republican-drawn map will stay in effect until the appeals court comes to a decision.

Three SCOTUS justices dissented from the court’s decision not to hear the case. Justice Elena Kagan believes the Court of Appeals overstepped its “proper authority.”

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