The Supreme Court rejected an emergency request from three Texas GOP legislators seeking to block subpoenas from the Justice Department and voting rights groups in connection to a challenge to state legislative maps.
The high court issued a brief Tuesday that was unsigned and without comment or dissent, leaving in place a lower court order allowing for the deposition of the lawmakers. The case stems from lawsuits filed in December by the DOJ that allege the state's 2021 congressional and statehouse redistricting plans violate Section 2 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act based on the 2020 census, asking for the maps to be redrawn.
The lawsuit further accuses Texas's new congressional and state legislative maps of weakening minority voting power at a time when the state has seen a significant increase in Latino and black voters in the past 10 years.
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President Joe Biden's administration and voting rights groups requested testimony from GOP Texas House Reps. John Lujan, Ryan Guillen and Brooks Landgraf. All three representatives maintain that their immunity was secured under lower federal courts, which prompted their now-failed emergency application to the highest court.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton argued in December that legislators are immune from such requests for testimony, calling the DOJ's response an "absurd lawsuit" that "is the Biden Administration's latest ploy to control Texas voters." The DOJ sided with voting rights groups that also sued the state, alleging minority groups' rights are infringed under the VRA.
During the high court's next term, justices plan to hear an Alabama redistricting case to consider narrowing the scope of the VRA.
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Justices delivered a 5-4 ruling in February that blocked an Alabama map that would have carved out a second majority-black congressional district and reinstated Republican-drawn lines that only formulated one heavily black district.
Democratic-appointed Justices Elena Kagan, Stephen Breyer, and Sonia Sotomayor dissented from the Republican-appointed majority's decision, arguing it "would rewrite decades of this Court's precedent" defending racial minorities and equal opportunity to participate in democratic elections.