(Updates with challenge to state senate districts in second paragraph.)
Sept. 21 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. Justice Department is opposing the new electoral maps approved by Texas Governor Rick Perry for congressional and state assembly districts, U.S. District Judge Rosemary Collyer said at a hearing in Washington.
Other parties who intervened in the case and joined today’s hearing by telephone are challenging proposed state senate districts, too, John Kent Tanner, a lawyer for the Texas Legislative Black Caucus, said in an interview.
Texas sued the Obama administration in July seeking “pre- clearance” for the state’s new maps under the Voting Rights Act, a step required of all states with a history of voting- rights violations. Perry, who is running for the Republican presidential nomination, signed the bill with the election map created in June by Texas lawmakers.
Collyer set an Oct. 25 deadline for the parties to finish getting documents from each other and respond to the state’s request for the judge to rule on the case without a trial. The litigation is being handled by a panel of two federal district court judges and one appellate judge.
The first day candidates can file for the state’s March 2012 primary ballot is Nov. 12 and the deadline is Dec. 12, said David Schenck, the deputy Texas attorney general who represented the state during the hearing.
The Legislature, most of who members are Republican, redrew electoral maps after the state grew enough to gain four seats in Congress, adding almost 4.3 million residents since 2000, according to the 2010 census.
Congressional representatives whose seats are threatened by the redistricting plan sued Perry and the state in federal court in San Antonio to block approval of the map, as did Hispanic voting-rights organizations and Travis County, which includes the capital, Austin.
A ruling in that case is on hold pending the outcome of the Washington lawsuit.
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