Perry v. Perez

Summarized by:

  • Court: United States Supreme Court
  • Area(s) of Law: Constitutional Law
  • Date Filed: January 20, 2012
  • Case #: 11-713; 11-714; 11-715
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: W.D. Tex. No opinion below
  • Full Text Opinion

When a District Court is required to construct an interim redistricting plan for a state's Congressional or legislative districts, it should defer to any policy decisions made by the state legislature to the extent that they do not conflict with the Constitution or the Voting Rights Act.

The Texas state legislature is required to redraw it’s U.S. Congressional, State House and State Senate districts following the 2010 census. It will be receiving four new U.S. Congressional seats. The new district plan is awaiting pre-clearance by the U.S. Department of Justice or a three-judge panel from the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, in accordance with the Voting Rights Act. The plan has been challenged, and will likely not be cleared in time for the 2012 primary elections. Until the new plan is cleared, Texas must use a plan drafted by a local U.S. District Court. Texas has asked the Supreme Court to stay the district court plan pending an appeal.

The Supreme Court held that the District Court should take guidance from the new, not yet cleared legislature plan, unless the legislative policy decisions reflect aspects that have a “reasonable probability” of failing to gain pre-clearance. At the same time, the local District Court must take steps to ensure that it does not prejudge any claims made by plaintiffs under section five of the Voting Rights Act. The District Court erred insofar as it substituted its own conception of “public good” for the legislature’s non-violative determinations. The order implementing the maps is vacated and the case is remanded.

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