Justice Department Sues Texas Over Redistricting Maps It Says Intentionally Discriminate Against Minorities
The United States Department of Justice has announced that it is suing the State of Texas and Republican Gov. Greg Abbott for creating redistricting maps that it claims were engineered to discriminate against non-white voters.
“Today, the Justice Department has filed suit against the State of Texas for violating Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said at a press conference. “As the Supreme Court has observed, a core principle of our democracy is that ‘voters should choose their representatives, not the other way around.’ Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act requires that state voting laws, including laws the draw electoral maps, provide eligible voters with an equal opportunity to participate in the democratic process and elect representatives of their choosing. The complaint we filed today alleges that Texas has violated Section 2 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.”
— Washington Examiner (@dcexaminer) December 6, 2021
Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta as well remarked that “Texas’s 2021 redistricting plans were enacted through a rushed process with minimal opportunity for public comment, without any expert testimony and with an overall disregard for the massive minority population growth in Texas over the last decade,”
The case, filed in the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas El Paso Division, states that “The Legislature refused to recognize the State’s growing minority electorate. Although the Texas Congressional delegation expanded from 36 to 38 seats, Texas designed the two new seats to have Anglo voting majorities. Texas also intentionally eliminated a Latino electoral opportunity in Congressional District 23, a West Texas district where courts had identified Voting Rights Act violations during the previous two redistricting cycles. It failed to draw a seat encompassing the growing Latino electorate in Harris County. And it surgically excised minority communities from the core of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex (DFW) by attaching them to heavily Anglo rural counties, some more than a hundred miles away, placing them in a congressional district where they would lack equal electoral opportunity.”
It adds that “Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act prohibits enforcement of any voting qualification, prerequisite to voting, standard, practice, or procedure that either has a purpose of denying or abridging the right to vote on account of race, color, or membership in a language minority group or results in the denial or abridgment of the right to vote on account of race, color, or language minority status. The districting decisions described in this complaint violate Section 2.”
Texas gained 16 residents of color for every white resident in the last decade.
But Greg Abbott signed gerrymandered maps that REDUCE the number of Hispanic and Black-majority districts from 9 to 7.
Now he’s being sued by the DOJ…again. pic.twitter.com/UUalJem9nl
— Sawyer Hackett (@SawyerHackett) December 6, 2021
DOJ is requesting that the court prohibit Texas from conducting elections using the new maps.
Ken Paxton, the right-wing attorney general of Texas, called the lawsuit a joke.
“The Department of Justice’s absurd lawsuit against our state is the Biden Administration’s latest ploy to control Texas voters. I am confident that our legislature’s redistricting decisions will be proven lawful, and this preposterous attempt to sway democracy will fail,” his office said in a tweet.
The Department of Justice's absurd lawsuit against our state is the Biden Administration's latest ploy to control Texas voters. I am confident that our legislature's redistricting decisions will be proven lawful, and this preposterous attempt to sway democracy will fail.
— Texas Attorney General (@TXAG) December 6, 2021