US Department of Justice sued Texas over new redistricting maps Monday, saying that the plans discriminate against African-American and Latino voters who have fueled the state’s demographic boom.
The lawsuit, filed in the Western District of Texas, states that the Republican-controlled state violated part of the Voting Rights Act by developing new maps for its congressional delegation and the state legislature. The case it is the first legal action to challenge Biden Department of Justice state maps during this redistricting cycle.
The lawsuit notes that the vast majority of Texas population growth over the past decade came from Black, Latino, and Asian people, but the new maps drawn by the state Republicans do not give any of these communities new opportunities to elect their own representatives.
Instead, Maps group Black and Latino communities into districts in strange ways (one from the Dallas area is known as a “seahorse” shape) while they preserve safe seats for white Republicans.
“This is not the first time that Texas has acted to minimize the voting rights of its minority citizens.”Said Deputy Attorney General Vanita Gupta during a press conference with Attorney General Merrick Garland. “Decade after decade, the courts have found that Texas has enacted redistricting plans that deliberately dilute the voting power of Latino and African American voters and violate the Voting Rights Act.”
The lawsuit cites several congressional districts where Republicans drew crooked lines to reduce the proportion of African-American and Latino voters in their party’s constituencies.
In the competitive 23rd District of West Texas, the map cut out areas near El Paso and San Antonio to reduce the proportion of Latino residents of voting age by 9%. In the Dallas area, he pulled African-American and Latino residents of the northwestern suburbs of the district from Representative Beth Van Duyne, who narrowly won her re-election against a Democratic black Latina candidate last year. In the Houston area, where the proportion of the white population is declining, the map kept six of the 10 House districts as majority white or plurality districts.
Texas has had to defend its maps in court after every redistricting process since the Voting Rights Act went into effect in 1965., but this It will be the first since a 2013 U.S. Supreme Court ruling struck down a provision in the Voting Rights Act that required Texas and other states with a history of racial profiling for the Justice Department to approve the maps.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton condemned the litigation as an intrusion by the Democratic administration. “The Department of Justice’s absurd lawsuit against our state is the Biden Administration’s latest tactic to control Texas voters,” Paton tweeted. “I am confident that the redistricting decisions of our legislature will be legitimate, and this absurd attempt to influence democracy will fail.”
The lawsuit will also unfold during a modified legal landscape for redistricting. The US Supreme Court ruled in 2019 that it will not arbitrate partisan disputes over manipulation of maps drawn to benefit a political party.
Nevertheless, federal courts remain open to claims of racial manipulation. Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act prohibits cartographers from diluting the voting power of minorities by distributing them among districts and preventing them from electing their own candidates.
That’s what the lawsuit alleges the Texas Republicans did. “The Legislature refused to recognize the state’s growing minority electorate,” the lawsuit alleges. “Although the Texas Congressional delegation was expanded from 36 to 38 seats, Texas designed the two new seats to have Anglo voting majorities.”
With information from AP