This week's federal trial over Texas election maps comes a year after the U.S. Supreme Court found that states with a history of voting discrimination no longer need federal permission to change elections laws.
The trial gives the Obama administration a chance to argue that the Voting Rights Act should still apply to Texas.
The federal government and civil rights groups claim the maps from the Republican-led state legislature in 2011 discriminate against minorities.
The Justice Department says Texas still needs pre-approval. It points to a little-known portion of the act saying state and local governments still need permission if intentional discrimination is found.
“I think what's really got Attorney General Greg Abbott concerned is some heavy federal redistricting guidelines that involve pre-clearance,” says Harris County Democratic Party Chairman Lane Lewis. “I think that's their biggest concern right now, and it should be.”
Some political analysts believe it may be too late to change redistricting when we're halfway through the cycle. Lewis disagrees.
“If this goes on all the way through the year 2020, then that's when it will go on to,” he says. “At least we'll be able to hopefully prevent a repeat of this kind of redistricting gerrymandering.”
There's also a court challenge to the 2013 legislative maps which virtually mirror the court-drawn maps currently being used in Texas elections.