Texas redistricting case could be impacted by Scalia’s passing

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The stakes just got higher for 2016. Justice Antonin Scalia died of natural causes over the weekend at a west Texas ranch.

Twenty four cases had been argued before the Supreme Court before their results were made public, which means Scalia’s opinions in those are now void. A high profile case that could change legislative districts across the country is among the 24. It began in Texas.

Maliha Mazhar picks up a projector from UT Austin’s media services. She has big plans for Voterama an up all night party on campus where students line up for the first Texas votes of 2016.

“There are too many things that are important on the ballet every year. I feel like it’s my duty to go make sure that my voice is heard,” said Maliha Mazhar.

The Supreme Court mulled over how we vote and it started here in Texas.  Voters send one Senator to the Texas capitol per 800,000 people.

Senate District 4 in the Houston suburbs has 504,000 eligible voters. District 4 voters will send Senator Brandon Creighton, R – Conroe, back to the Senate this year with no opponents.

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But a neighboring district downtown has more felons, non-citizens, and children, causing the same population to have 200,000 fewer eligable voters. Voters in District 6 will send Senator Sylvia Garcai, D – Houston, back to the capitol with no opponent.

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Conservatives in Evenwel v. Abbott argued a vote in the city is worth more than a vote in rural areas. Their district has more voters but still get only one Senator.

map 1

“Justice Scalia was a giant,” said  Robert Henneke from the Texas Public Policy Foundation. He says he was a solid vote on a court split 5 to 4 on controversial cases.

“There are 24 cases that have been argued before the Supreme Court where they have not published an opinion. In those cases, Justice Scalia’s opinion would be essentially thrown out,” said Henneke. The Texas redistricting case was one of those 24 cases. Throwing out Scalia’s vote could save Texas from immediately redrawing the lines.

In the event of a tie, while the court has eight justices, the case would be sent back to the lower court. In the Texas Senate case the lower court upheld the current system.

Important to note, you can early vote for the primary- up until Friday, February 26th. If you don’t get your ballot in before then- you’re going to have to wait until March First. You are allowed to vote early at any location in the county where you are registered.

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