Federal judges in San Antonio unveiled maps for the state's congressional delegation and for the state House this afternoon, and they did it in time to allow the state to hold its delayed political primaries on May 29. The court also signed off on Senate plans agreed to earlier this month.
The court has not ordered a May 29 election, but on Monday it asked the political parties to detail the election law waivers they would need in order to hold their primaries on that date. The judges put out the maps early enough to take comments from the various parties on them, but they didn't immediately seek those comments, and aren't required to do so.
Attorney General Greg Abbott said these maps are much closer to those originally approved by the Texas Legislature last year. "I consider these interim maps to be a substantial improvement over the maps previously issued by the San Antonio court," he said. "The court properly rejected demands by some plaintiffs to draw drastic and over-reaching maps."
The state objected to the court's first maps because the judges started their drawings from the current political maps instead of starting with the maps approved by the Legislature last year. The U.S. Supreme Court kicked those back, telling the Texas judges to start from the Legislature's work, correcting for violations of the Constitution and the federal Voting Rights Act.
Gov. Rick Perry blamed the Democrat judges for the delay in the state's primary elections. "As the Supreme Court has agreed, the federal court in San Antonio overstepped its boundaries when it took it upon itself to draw new maps," he said in a press release. "Had the federal court done it correctly to begin with, the time, costs and inconvenience to our state could have been avoided, and we would be having our elections on schedule."