Judges move up Texas redistricting arguments


WASHINGTON – A three-judge panel hearing arguments about whether the Texas Legislature violated the federal Voting Rights Act when it redrew the state's political maps said Tuesday it is moving up closing arguments in the case because of a recent Supreme Court ruling.

Both the state of Texas and the U.S. Justice Department, along with several minority voting groups, are expected to call witnesses examining the impact of political maps.

On Monday, political redistricting expert Theodore Arrington testified on behalf of the Justice Department. He said that because there are so few Democrats in the Texas Legislature who aren't minorities, working against them could constitute a violating of the Voting Rights Act.

The district court will now hear closing arguments January 31 in hopes of redrawing maps in time for the already-delayed April 3 presidential primary.  In the Supreme Court's decision last Friday, it told the lower court to use the maps drawn by the Texas legislature as a starting point.  Elections other congressional seats could take place in May. 

KSAT reporter Charles Gonzalez contributed to this report.