TX Supreme Court Denies relief in Harris Co Case
By Joan M Ridley
The Supreme Court of Texas (SCOTX) denied a request to block a Harris County redistricting plan Thursday in a narrow opinion that leaves room for a future challenge to the controversial map crafted by Commissioner Rodney Ellis (D-Pct. 1).
The lawsuit filed against Harris County judge Lina Hidalgo (D) by several voters and Republican commissioners Tom Ramsey (Pct. 3) and Jack Cagle (Pct. 4), alleged that the “Ellis 3” map would violate the voting rights of more than one million residents since it effectively swapped most of Precinct 3 with most of Precinct 4. Under the swap of precincts, plaintiffs argued that significant numbers of residents would have a six-year rather than a four-year gap in voting for a commissioner.
In an opinion written by Justice James Blacklock, the court rejected the plaintiff’s request not on the merits of the case, but because of the timing of the challenge so close to the 2022 primary elections.
“For a court to resolve an election dispute, the court must receive the case early enough to order relief that would not disrupt the larger election.”
Plaintiffs had filed the case on November 17, 2021, but on December 22, state district court Judge Dedra Davis granted Hidalgo’s request for a dismissal. On the following day, plaintiffs filed a writ of mandamus with SCOTX.
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