What you need to know about the gerrymandering ruling's local impact

Phil Archer reporting.

HOUSTON – The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Thursday that redistricting in an attempt to get a particular party elected, isn't a court decision. The practice, known as gerrymandering, has been done in many states, including Texas.

Is gerrymandering a problem in Texas?

Texas is considered one of the most gerrymandered states in the union.

What does the Supreme Court decision mean for Texas?

The court ruled, in essence, that the federal courts will no longer be the ultimate arbiters of disputes over redistricting for partisan political advantage. 

The court said in essence that disputes over redistricting or gerrymandering are political questions best left to Congress or state legislatures, not the courts. 

However, disputes over racial gerrymandering will still be handled by federal courts. 

Texas redistricting is coming up in 2021. How will the ruling affect the outcome?

Redistricting is controlled by the majority party in the Texas Legislature. For decades, that’s been the Republican Party. But Democrats picked up a dozen house seats in the 2018 elections, and are now just nine seats short of controlling the legislative body.

Democratic consultant Keir Murray believes winning the House could give Democrats leverage in the redistricting process.

“The stakes are even higher. This redistricting process only happens once every 10 years. It has very powerful effects on who represents what in the Legislature (and) in Congress. So yes, the stakes are high, going to get even higher after today's ruling,” Murray said.

On the Republican side, former Harris County Judge Ed Emmett disagrees. He believes Republicans will continue to control the process even after 2020.

“The little-known reality of redistricting in Texas is if you end up with a stalemate in the House and Senate, it goes to the Legislative Redistricting Board, which is made up of five statewide officials, all of whom are Republicans,” he said.

What about redistricting reform in Texas?

Several bills were filed in the last session to reform redistricting in Texas, but none made it out of their committee.