Early this week, the Supreme Court – over the dissent of the court’s four more liberal justices – granted Texas’ request to put on hold two lower-court orders that had invalidated two of the state’s federal congressional districts and the state’s maps for the lower house of the Texas legislature. The two courts’ orders had directed Texas Governor Greg Abbott to decide quickly whether to call a special session of the legislature, while also indicating that the state should be prepared to redraw the existing maps this month. Tuesday night’s orders put those rulings on hold. Today the challengers in the case, who prevailed in the lower courts, agreed with the state that the Supreme Court should treat the state’s filings as requests to weigh in on the merits of the two rulings, and they asked the justices to speed up their consideration of those requests.
In a short letter addressed to Scott Harris, the clerk of the Supreme Court, the challengers explain that the court’s disposition of the two cases will have a significant impact: It “will determine the district boundaries for the 2018 congressional and state elections.” If they prevail, the challengers continue, “remedial proceedings will be required on remand, and the State will be required to conduct primary elections under the district lines that result from those proceedings. To minimize the disruption those proceedings may have on the 2018 Texas election calendar,” the challengers conclude, they “agree with the State that the Court’s consideration of these appeals should be expedited.”
The challengers propose a briefing schedule that would allow the justices to consider the two cases at their January 5, 2018, conference. If the court were to grant the state’s request for review, the cases could be argued in the spring of 2018, with a decision on the merits by the end of June.
This post was also republished at SCOTUSblog.com.