The U.S. Department of Justice no longer supports efforts to force Texas back under federal oversight of its electoral maps. According to legal filings, federal attorneys said, “The United States no longer believes that [federal supervision] is warranted in this case.”
The U.S. Supreme Court released Texas from federal oversight in 2013. Last year, the high court upheld the 2011 maps drawn by the Republican-led Legislature.
Democrats and minority rights groups have now shifted their focus back to federal oversight.
"The whole thing for preclearance was the make up for all the damage done by Democrats with Jim Crow laws and racist policies they had implemented for decades," says James Dickey, chairman of the Republican Party of Texas.
He says Democrats can chance the voter maps once they win back a majority in Austin.
"Republicans didn't have control of the Texas State House until 2003, just 16 years ago," says Dickey. "It absolutely is possible the underdog or upstart party can take control of the House no matter who drew the districts."
It's unlikely any decision will be made before the 2020 census which will be used to draw new maps moving forward.
"The Democrats and minority rights groups that wanted Texas to be bailed back into having to seek preclearance were already facing an uphill struggle even with a Democratic Department of Justice," says Dr. Mark Jones, a fellow in sociology Rice University’s Baker Institute of Public Policy. "With a Republican Department of Justice it's virtually impossible."