The Supreme Court (search) refused Friday to block a hard-fought Republican redistricting plan (searchin Texas that could cost Democrats as many as six seats in Congress.

The justices will announce later this year whether they will consider an appeal from congressional Democrats and others who claim that the map dilutes minority voting strength. In the meantime, they rejected an emergency appeal (search) that sought to stop the state from using the new boundaries in this year's elections.

The districts were approved by the Republican-controlled Legislature in a special session following months of partisan bickering, highlighted by two out-of-state walkouts by Democrats.

Republicans contend they could capture as many as 22 of Texas' 32 seats in Congress, up from the present 16, under the new map, which was upheld last week by a federal panel.

The three-judge panel said critics failed to prove the plan was unconstitutional or illegal, but noted they were not ruling on the "wisdom" of the plan.

"We know it is rough and tumble politics, and we are ever mindful that the judiciary must call the fouls without participating in the game," the judges said.

Critics asked the court for a stay of that decision, but Texas argued that it would unsettle the upcoming election and confuse voters because candidates are already campaigning in the new districts.

The Supreme Court action, done without comment, came as candidates were re-qualifying under the new districts for the March 9 primaries.

Candidates originally filed to run under court-drawn districts because the federal panel had not yet signed off on the GOP map.