On Monday, the U.S. Justice Department sued Texas over its new redistricting maps, saying the plans discriminate against minority voters, specifically Latinos, who fueled the population boom of the state. Furthermore, the lawsuit claims Texas violated part of the Voting Rights Act in drawing new constituency boundaries for its state legislature and congressional delegation. It is the first legal action of the Justice Department challenging the Republican-controlled state’s maps since states started redrawing their maps this year to justify population changes.
JUST IN: DOJ sues Texas, alleging it violated Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act “by creating redistricting plans that deny or abridge the rights of Latino and Black voters to vote on account of their race, color or membership in a language minority group,” AG Garland says. pic.twitter.com/5fpHzwfr4s
— ABC News (@ABC) December 6, 2021
Moreover, the lawsuit notes that most of the population growth of Texas over the last ten years came from Latino, Asian and Black people but alleges that the new maps scatter these voters all over the districts, tempering their votes and refusing them opportunities to choose their representatives. Moreover, it argues that maps pack Latino and Black communities into bizarre-shaped districts – a Dallas-region one defined as seahorse-shaped – while protecting seats for white Republican leaders.
During a press conference with Attorney General Merrick Garland, Vanita Gupta, the Associate Attorney, said that it is not the first time Texas acted to reduce the voting rights of its minority citizens. Courts found decade after decade that Texas passed redistricting strategies that intentionally weaken the voting strength of Black and Latino voters and that violate the Voting Rights Act.
Texas Has had to Justify its Maps in Court
A spokeswoman for Republican Texas Governor Greg Abbott, Renae Eze, condemned the lawsuit. Further, he said that it is no surprise that Democratic leaders in Washington are attacking the redistricting plans of the state. However, the officials are confident that the court will uphold the redistricting plans of Texas, and the office continues working with the Attorney General Office to ensure the fair representation of Texas residents.
The lawsuit of Monday, filed in the Texas Western District, highlights many congressional districts in which Republican leaders drew tortured lines to lower the share of Latino and Black voters in the congressional districts of the party. For example, in the competitive 23rd District of west Texas, the map cut out areas near San Antonio and El Paso to reduce the share of Latino voting-age citizens by nine percent.
Additionally, in the Dallas region, it pulled Latino and Black people in the northwest neighborhoods out of the district of GOP Representative Beth Van Duyne, who hardly defeated Candace Valenzuela, a Democratic Black Latina nominee last year. However, in the Houston region, where the share of White residents is declining, the map kept six of ten House districts as plurality districts or white majority.
Texas State has had to defend its maps in court after every redistricting procedure since the Voting Rights Act came into effect in 1965. However, this will be the first time since a 2013 United States Court ruling devastated a delivery of the Voting Rights Act that had wanted Texas and other U.S. states with a history of radical prejudice to have the DOJ approve the maps before they went into effect.
Biden Administration Filed a Lawsuit to Overturn Texas New Voting Law
It is the second time the Biden government recently filed a lawsuit against Texas. In November, the administration sued to overturn the Texas new voting law, part of a flood of Republican-backed voting changes, claiming the latest restrictions would disqualify citizens in the state. In addition, the lawsuit and others that Democrats and civil rights groups previously filed challenging the maps of Texas may not change things before the 2022 election.
Redistricting litigation can take many years, and the fifth Circuit Court of Appeals will hear the Biden government case. However, it remains unlawful for cartographers to discriminate on the basis of race while drawing judicial lines. Furthermore, Section two of the Voting Rights Act forbids line-drawers from weakening the voting power of minorities by dispersing them among districts and banning them from choosing their preferred nominees.
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