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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

Go deeper

"Atmospheric river" swings Northern California from drought to flood

Satellite view of the bomb cyclone swirling off the coast of the Pacific Northwest and the atmospheric river affecting California on Oct. 24. Photo: CIRA/RAMMB

A series of powerful "atmospheric river" storms are delivering historic amounts of rainfall across parts of drought-stricken California and the Pacific Northwest — triggering widespread power outages and flooding.

Why it matters: The strong atmospheric river, packing large amounts of moisture, is causing Northern California to whiplash from drought to flood.

“You blew it”: GOP activist turns on corporations over vaccine mandates

The chairman of the American Conservative Union said on "Axios on HBO" he accepts "Joe Biden is my president, and I want him to succeed," but predicted Republicans retake the House and Senate in 2022 — with greater than 50% odds Donald Trump runs in 2024.

The big picture: In a joint interview with his wife, Mercedes, Matt Schlapp also refused to share their vaccination status. And he told corporate America "you blew it" by embracing vaccine mandates and liberal social stances that have alienated GOP voters and politicians.

4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Pelosi expects “billionaire’s tax” to pay for Biden social spending

Photo: Yasin Ozturk/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Sunday she expects the chamber to pass the bipartisan infrastructure plan by week’s end, and alternatives to corporate tax hikes and a “billionaires tax” will be used to finance President Biden’s promised expansion to the social safety net.

Why it matters: Pelosi’s comments come as House and Senate leaders try to wrap up a deal. What will get cut — and how the remainder will be paid — are linchpins to a final agreement.