***FOR PRINT***Texas AG challenges redistricting plan

Jessica M. Karmasek Nov. 28, 2011, 6:45am


AUSTIN (Legal Newsline) - Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott says he plans to file an emergency stay with the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday challenging redistricting maps drawn by a panel of federal judges in San Antonio.

Abbott, in a statement Saturday, repeatedly called the maps "legally flawed."

The attorney general alleges that the three-judge redistricting panel "improperly rejected the will of the elected legislature" and redrew the state's House of Representatives and Senate districts "without regard to any established legal or constitutional principles."

According to the Texas Tribune, the redistricting panel met over the weekend and approved congressional maps, which were first proposed the day before Thanksgiving. The day before the holiday, the panel also approved maps for the state's House and Senate.

Barring court action, those four maps will be used in next year's elections, the newspaper said.

However, candidates can start filing for office Monday, which is why Abbott says an emergency stay is even more necessary.

Elections should not proceeded based on "legally flawed maps that are likely to be overturned on further review," he said in a statement.

"Because the legally flawed maps could create confusion for Texans who wish to become candidates when the filing period opens Monday, the State of Texas is pushing quickly to restore clarity to the process," he said.

"An expeditious decision is necessary so candidates will not needlessly file for office based on boundaries drawn by the interim maps that are likely to be overturned upon further legal review."

In filing its stay, the State is hoping the nation's high court will do away with the court-ordered maps and instead uphold its own legislature's plans.

According to Abbott's office, attorney Paul Clement is assisting the State with its challenge.

Clement is considered one of the nation's foremost appellate lawyers and is a former U.S. Solicitor General, serving from June 2005 to June 2008.

He also is currently representing the 26 states in the lawsuit challenging President Barack Obama's federal health care law, which the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear earlier this month.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at jessica@legalnewsline.com.

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