updated 8/3/2006 4:58:16 PM ET 2006-08-03T20:58:16

An attorney for the state argued in court on Thursday that its proposed congressional map would make districts more compact, while plans by Hispanics and Democrats aimed for a partisan edge in the court-ordered revision of Texas districts.

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Ted Cruz also told a three-judge federal panel that the state’s entry in the court-ordered revision of Texas districts was not meant to target Democrats.

The proposed map would shift Austin, the hometown of longtime Democratic Rep. Lloyd Doggett, into a district now represented by Rep. Lamar Smith, a San Antonio Republican.

The arguments came as the panel began hearing arguments about how to redraw southwestern Texas congressional districts to restore minority voting power.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June that a huge southwest district violates the Voting Rights Act because the power of the minority vote was diminished when concentrations of Hispanics were split into two districts.

U.S. District Judge Patrick Higginbotham, the presiding judge, asked Cruz why the state map called for eliminating Doggett’s political base.

Cruz said the state was trying to make the districts more compact. Doggett’s current district runs from Austin to the Mexican border.

Cruz also said the maps submitted by Democratic and Latino groups, which were submitting their arguments later Thursday, tried to create too many Hispanic districts and gain a political edge.

The federal panel can select one of the maps submitted by the parties in the case or draw their own voting lines to fix the district in question.

It was unclear when the three-judge panel may issue a decision, but Texas elections officials say a ruling by Monday is necessary for changes to go into effect for the Nov. 7 election.

The ruling resulted from a lawsuit against the state filed by Democrats and several groups of minority rights activists. The high court upheld most of the map, drawn by state Republicans in 2003 to put more Republicans in office, but ruled that the district now represented by GOP Rep. Henry Bonilla is unconstitutional.

The district stretches from Laredo north to San Antonio and west to the edge of El Paso. It’s the only district that must be redrawn, but neighboring districts will likely need to be tweaked to comply with any changes.

New maps have also proposed by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, the League of United Latin American Citizens, and Bonilla, Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar, and Republican Rep. Lamar Smith.

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