Bush Administration Joins Texas to Defend Redistricting Map

The Supreme Court on Friday granted the Bush administration's request to join Texas in defending a Republican-friendly congressional map engineered by Rep. Tom DeLay.

The administration will share time with Texas lawyers on March 1, when the court holds a special afternoon session to consider four appeals that stem from the bitter dispute over Texas congressional district boundaries.

Justices are considering whether the Republican-controlled Legislature acted purely for partisan gain in 2003 when it threw out district boundaries that had been used in the 2002 elections, and whether the new map violated a federal voting rights law.

The Justice Department approved the plan although staff lawyers concluded that it diluted minority voting rights. The Bush administration asked the high court last week for permission to participate in the case, supporting Texas.

The redistricting helped Republicans win 21 of Texas' 32 seats in Congress in the last election, up from 15.

The congressional districts were redrawn after Republicans took control of the state House in 2002. DeLay, R-Texas, has been indicted on money laundering charges stemming from his efforts to aid Republicans in state legislative elections that year.

DeLay stepped down as U.S. House majority leader because of the charges but denies any wrongdoing.

The cases are League of United Latin American Citizens v. Perry, 05-204; Travis County v. Perry, 05-254; Jackson v. Perry, 05-276; GI Forum of Texas v. Perry, 05-439.