Less than a week after a court of appeals ruled a map drawn in 2021 by Galveston County officials be used for the upcoming 2024 elections, the U.S. Supreme Court reaffirmed the decision, denying the plaintiff’s request to overturn the ruling.

The gist

In an ongoing federal case, Petteway vs. Galveston County, officials are trying to determine if a map drawn by county officials in 2021 as part of its redistricting process violated the rights of minority voters.

In a Dec. 12 ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court denied a request from the plaintiffs of the case that asked the court to overturn the decision from the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, which issued a stay on Dec. 7, meaning the maps drawn in 2021 would be used for the 2024 elections.

The newest Supreme Court ruling came just days after plaintiffs filed the emergency application to overturn the stay Dec. 8—just ahead of the state’s filing deadline for the March primaries, officials with the Southern Coalition for Social Justice said in a Dec. 12 news release.

In the months leading up to the decision, a U.S. District Court ruled in October the county must redraw its maps. In November, that same judge, Judge Jeffrey Brown, ordered the use of a remedial map in the meantime.

How we got here

The case was originally filed in 2022 following the county’s 2021 redistricting process.

Those filing the case, which included the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, local Galveston chapters of the NAACP, the local council for the League of United Latin American Citizens and other civil rights leaders, said the map discriminated against Black and Latino voters.

What they’re saying

“This ruling emboldens more politicians to try the same tactics that the Galveston commissioners used to create this blatantly discriminatory map,” said Joaquin Gonzalez, senior supervising attorney for the Voting Rights Program at the Texas Civil Rights Project, in the release. “We will continue fighting for Galveston residents to have a fair shot to influence the decisions that shape their community.”

“We are pleased with the majority opinion of the Supreme Court [on Dec. 12] to deny all motions by the plaintiffs in this case,” Galveston County Judge Mark Henry said in a Dec. 13 statement. “As signaled from the majority opinion of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals stay last week, we are hopeful that Galveston County will prevail on merits of this case. The Voting Rights Act does not support this 'coalition district' theory that the plaintiffs are trying to use in requiring us to draw Democrat districts.”

Stay tuned

There is a review for the case planned for May, which will be en banc, meaning it will be heard by several judges at once.

In the meantime, the 2021 map will be used for the elections, according to the release from the SCSJ.