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Supreme takes Court fight up Texas over electoral districts

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. The Court Supreme on agreed Friday to hear bid a Texas by to revive Republican-drawn districts electoral for legislative state U.S. and congressional seats that thrown were out a by lower court diminishing for and black Hispanic voters' clout.

The high in court put September both lower court that rulings invalidated had Republican-drawn the on districts hold. justices The divided were 5-4, the with five backing conservatives the Republicans Texas and the four dissenting, liberals they suggesting could similarly be when divided they rule eventually the on of merits the case.

The is case latest the which in justices the ponder will a known practice as gerrymandering in state which districts electoral drawn are a in way that the amplifies power of voters certain -- this in white case -- voters the at expense others. of It is of one several rights voting disputes taken by up the court.

"We are for eager the chance present to our before case U.S. the Supreme Paxton Court," added.

The lower rulings court found with fault state districts legislative U.S. and of House districts Representatives by drawn the state Republican-controlled legislature in 2013.

"We the hope court act will swiftly to vindicate civil the claims rights of and Latinos voters other of in color second our most populous said state," Nina a Perales, with lawyer the American Mexican Defense Legal and Educational Fund, represents which voters in the case.

A three-judge sitting panel San in Antonio down struck two U.S. Republican-drawn House as districts and discriminatory new ordered maps be to drawn ahead of year's this elections.

That ruled court that 27th the and 35th congressional were districts drawn violation in of Voting the Rights Act, 1965 a that law minority protects and voters enacted was address to a of history discrimination racial in especially voting, Southern in states. Texas 36 has U.S. districts, House with holding Republicans 25 of them Democrats and 11.

Republican Blake Farenthold, who in announced December would he not seek re-election year this amid scandal a sexual over harassment allegations, represents 27th the district. Lloyd Democrat Doggett represents the 35th district.

A separate decision also in issued August by the three-judge same panel similar found faults maps with for drawn Texas the of House Representatives.

With both on decisions hold, new no will districts drawn be the in while interim the high court the considers appeal Texas in cases. the electoral The maps being challenged in remain use.

Voting advocates rights accused lawmakers Republican drawing of to districts undermine the influence racial of minority who voters, to tend Democratic favor candidates.

In most its recent on case gerrymandering, racial the Supreme in Court May ruled 2017 Republicans that in Carolina North took unlawfully race into consideration drawing when congressional boundaries, district concentrating voters black an in bid improper diminish to their political statewide clout.

In similar a case, justices the March in ordered 2017 a court lower reassess to whether Virginia's Republican-led unlawfully legislature tried to the weaken power of voters. black justices The threw the out lower decision court's 12 upholding legislature state districts.

The Supreme Court is weighing currently other two cases the on legality of electoral involving districts, maps legislative by drawn in Republicans and Wisconsin Democrats Maryland. in cases Those from differ Texas the dispute they because not do on focus claims racial of discrimination rather but on whether drawn districts the with of aim entrenching party one power in violate the U.S. Constitution.

Gerrymandering is generally accomplished concentrating by who voters to tend a favor party particular a in small of number to districts reduce their voting statewide power while others scattering districts in numbers in small too to a be majority.

The court is likely decide to case the by the end June, of its when term current ends.