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Federal court in San Antonio issues new Texas political maps in time for a May 29 primary
SAN ANTONIO (AP) ' A federal court in San Antonio issued new Texas congressional and state House maps on Tuesday, just in time for the state to finally hold its twice-delayed primary on May 29.
The ruling by a three-judge panel could clear the way for elections, if none of the nine groups contesting the state's political districts files an appeal. All sides were studying the complex maps to determine their next move.
Minority groups have accused the Republican-controlled Legislature of drawing maps that discriminated against them. The state's leaders say the maps merely give Republicans an advantage in the next election, something that is perfectly legal in drawing political districts.
Time is running out for Texas to hold primaries, and the maps are intended to get Texas through the 2012 election cycle. The fight over redistricting has already seen the Texas primaries delayed from March 6 to April 3 and now May 29. The last day Texans could vote is June 26.
The latest maps come after months or legal wrangling in three federal courtrooms, including the U.S. Supreme Court. The court threw out the last set of maps the San Antonio judges drew saying they did not adhere closely enough to the maps originally drawn by the Legislature.
The ruling does not resolve the two court cases still pending, but is only an interim measure. The San Antonio court must still make a decision on whether the original maps drawn by Republicans last year discriminates against minorities and needs to be changed. That decision is dependent on separate lawsuit in the Washington, D.C., federal court on whether the original maps are legal under the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
The Washington court said it would probably issue a ruling sometime in March.
Texas redistricting website: http://www.tlc.state.tx.us/redist/redist.htm