Texas Redistricting Case Heads to Supreme Court

Ricky Carioti  The Washington Post via Getty Images

Also on Friday, Chief Justice John Roberts ordered groups that challenged congressional districts in North Carolina - which were struck down earlier this week for giving Republicans an improper advantage over Democrats - to respond by Wednesday to an appeal by state officials. The justices will consider next week whether to take that case.

The U.S. Supreme Court announced today that it will hear both of Texas' redistricting appeals. And last month it accepted a petition from Maryland Republicans to review the way that state's Democratic leadership redrew the lines of a congressional district held by a GOP congressman.

The disputed congressional districts are CD 27, which stretches from the Central Texas town of Lockhart to the coastal communities along the Gulf of Mexico, and CD 35, which runs from Austin to San Antonio in a narrow swath along Interstate Highway 35.

The way state legislatures draw election districts for political gain is coming to dominate the Supreme Court's docket. If the high court finds after a hearing this spring that the lines violate voting rights, new boundaries might have to be drawn for the 2018 election cycle.

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The court agreed on a 5-to-4 vote, with the court's four liberals objecting. The case is Abbott v. Perez.

The clear signal from the justices is that they may be ready to reverse themselves and demand that online retailers collect and remit sales taxes, even in states where they have no physical presence.

In 2016, South Dakota enacted a law requiring out-of-state online retailers to collect sales tax, knowing that it would provoke a legal battle. The Senate passed a measure in 2013 to let states collect sales taxes from online retailers if they had at least $1 million in annual sales there, but it died in the House.

That old ruling, 1992's Quill Corp. v. Online marketplace eBay Inc, which exclusively sells products via third-party vendors, allows for sales tax to be calculated based on the address of the purchaser, for example. "I hope this means the Court is open to revisiting the important issue of taxation of online sales". Internet commerce platforms Wayfair, Overstock, and Newegg challenged the new tax in short order. "The action throughout the nation is extensive and complex", the state's appeal said.

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And they contend that it should be up to Congress, not the courts, to remedy any problems that local governments say they have.

Shay added that Congress should pass legislation "to settle this critical issue once and for all".

Such officers must be appointed by the president, the head of a federal agency or by a court.

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

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It is also notable because it is another case for which the Trump administration's Justice Department switched sides.

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