Court says Texas can make voting maps over 'grave concerns'

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AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - A federal court says Texas can change voting maps without federal supervision despite "grave concerns" and findings that Republicans racially discriminated while trying to strengthen their majorities in Congress and the state Legislature.

The ruling Wednesday is a key decision ahead of the 2020 census. It clears the way for Texas to enact new voting maps in 2021 without courts first checking to see whether minority voters might be disenfranchised.

Hispanic growth is driving Texas' booming population. Census figures show Texas added nearly nine new Hispanic residents for every white resident in 2018.

A three-judge panel in San Antonio voiced strong concerns about Texas mapmaking given "past conduct." But the judges said supervision isn't warranted following a U.S. Supreme Court decision last year that kept Texas' maps largely intact.