updated 8/4/2006 4:15:12 PM ET 2006-08-04T20:15:12

A three-judge federal panel on Friday reunited Webb County into one congressional district, solidifying Hispanic voting strength in South Texas.

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The U.S. Supreme Court remanded the map to the three-judge federal panel to redraw the sprawling 23rd District, which it ruled unconstitutionally diluted Hispanic voting strength.

"These changes restore Latino voting strength to District 23 without dividing communities of interest," the judges said.

The panel reunited Webb County, which includes Laredo, and placed it in the 28th Congressional District, which is adjacent to the 23rd District. It added portions of Bexar County, which includes San Antonio, to the 23rd District.

The district, which includes most of the region near the state's border with Mexico, stretches from Laredo to El Paso County and north to San Antonio. The high court ruled that the district boundaries drawn by Republican state legislators in 2003 diminish Hispanic voting power because a large cluster of Webb County Hispanics were divided into two different congressional districts.

The new plan also moves Kerr, Kendall, Bandera, and Real counties into the 21st Congressional District, represented by Republican Lamar Smith of San Antonio.

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