Updated Apr 24, 2018

Supreme Court takes up Texas racial gerrymandering battle

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday will consider whether Texas lawmakers drew electoral maps used in the last three election cycles that suppressed black and Hispanic voters’ political clout.

Why it matters: A court decision, likely by June, could reshape two congressional and nine state legislative district lines before the state Legislature is required to do another round of redistricting after the 2020 census. Since Hispanic and black voters overwhelmingly vote Democratic, a ruling against the state would put Republican-held seats in play for Democrats.

The back story: In 2011, a federal court struck down the maps drawn by the GOP-controlled legislature as unconstitutional, and quickly approved temporary lines in time for the 2012 elections.

  • In 2013, the legislature decided to keep using those temporary maps until a new round of redistricting after the 2020 census.
  • Last summer, a federal court struck those maps down. In the August ruling, the court sided with minority rights groups that accused GOP lawmakers of violating the Voting Rights Act by packing minorities into some districts and splintering them to dilute their voting strength.
  • But weeks later, the Supreme Court, along ideological lines, blocked the lower court’s redrawing. It would have enacted new maps ahead of this year's midterms to remedy the racial gerrymanders. Texas appealed to preserve the maps.

What to watch: The justices would have to first determine whether they have the jurisdiction to rule on the case. Pam Karlan, the lead counsel for the plaintiffs, told reporters Monday during a press call that if the high court insists on hearing the case, voting rights groups hope it affirms the lower court ruling.

  • If the case is sent back to the lower court for a remedy, Karlan said civil rights groups would request that Texas be placed under federal review — a condition to safeguard voters of color from discrimination.

Until recently, the justices have expressed deep reservations about wading into partisan squabbles over gerrymandering, but the court has struck down maps that relied too heavily on race. This is the third redistricting case on its docket this term. The justices have also heard cases on partisan redistricting in Wisconsin and Maryland.

Go deeper: Here's where the big redistricting court fights stand

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Hungary's Viktor Orbán granted sweeping powers amid coronavirus crisis

Viktor Orbán. Photo: Michal Cizek/AFP via Getty Images

Hungary's parliament passed a law Monday to allow Prime Minister Viktor Orbán almost unlimited power, for an indefinite period, to fight the coronavirus outbreak.

Why it matters: Hungary has taken a sharply authoritarian turn over the past decade under Orbán, and its likely that he and other strongman leaders around the world will seek to maintain powers they gain during the current crisis long after it's over.

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 9:30 a.m. ET: 737,929 — Total deaths: 35,019 — Total recoveries: 156,507.
  2. U.S.: Leads the world in cases. Total confirmed cases as of 9:30 a.m. ET: 143,055 — Total deaths: 2,513 — Total recoveries: 4,865.
  3. Federal government latest: The White House will extend its social distancing guidelines until April 30.
  4. Trump latest: The president brushed aside allegations that China is spreading misinformation about the origin of the coronavirus on "Fox & Friends."
  5. Business updates: Americans are calm about their retirement savings despite coronavirus fallout.
  6. World updates: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will self-isolate after an aide tested positive for coronavirus.
  7. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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BIG3 to create a hybrid reality show about quarantine basketball

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Sports are on pause, and there's no timetable for their return. In the interim, leagues, teams and athletes are getting creative with ways to keep fans engaged.

The latest: A "quarantined reality show basketball tournament," courtesy of the BIG3, the upstart 3-on-3 basketball league founded by Ice Cube and his longtime business partner Jeff Kwatinetz.