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Texas Attorney General to File Emergency Stay With U.S. Supreme Court Challenging Redistricting Maps

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott will file an emergency stay application with the U.S. Supreme Court to halt the implementation of a congressional redistricting map, Abbott's office announced Saturday. 

The statement from Abbott's office said that a stay of the election process is needed because, "elections should not proceed based on legally flawed maps that are likely to be overturned on review."

The motion comes after a federal court refused his request late Friday to block a congressional redistricting map it drew up for Texas, hours after the Republican accused the court of "undermining the democratic process."

Abbott had asked the San Antonio-based court to stay the implementation of its interim map, which the court drafted when minority groups challenged the original plan passed by the Republican-dominated state Legislature. 

The court-drawn map would ensure minorities made up the majority in three additional Texas congressional districts. If the 2012 elections were held under the court's map, Democrats would have an advantage as they try to win back the U.S. House.

"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," Abbott's statement reads. 

The court-ordered map will remain in place until the legal fights are resolved.

The court drew the maps after minority groups filed a lawsuit, claiming a redistricting plan devised by Republican lawmakers didn't reflect growth in the state's Hispanic and black populations.

In a court filing earlier Friday, Abbott accused the court of overstepping its authority.

"A court's job is to apply the law, not to make policy," he wrote. "A federal court lacks constitutional authority to interfere with the expressed will of the state Legislature unless it is compelled to remedy a specific, identifiable violation of law."

Abbott argued that the Legislature's map "incorporate constituents' concerns about communities of interest and proper representation." He said the court's departure from that map "not only undermines the democratic process, it ignores the voice of the citizenry."

Lawmakers redraw boundaries for the state's legislative districts every 10 years to reflect changes in census data. Texas' population boom in the last decade gave it four new U.S. House seats, which will be filled in the 2012 election.

Like other states with a history of racial discrimination, Texas can't implement those new maps or other changes to voting practices without federal approval under the Voting Rights Act. No federal approval, and looming deadlines for county election officials, made it necessary for the court to issue its own plans -- which could be implemented immediately.

Minorities currently are the majority in 10 of Texas' 32 congressional districts. The new court-drawn map would raise that to 13 out of 36 districts.

Republican lawmakers insist the maps drawn by the Legislature merely reflect the Republican majority in Texas. Experts say that under the legislatively approved map, three of the new seats would likely be won by Republicans.

When drawing the interim map, the court gave priority to ensuring minority voting strength was protected in the 2012 election.

In its own filing Friday, the NAACP cheered the court-drawn interim map as a "step forward for Texas." The group said it, "recognizes the growth of the minority population and takes significant steps toward remedying some of the startling lack of proportionality in the prior plans."

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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