June 14, 2024

DOJ sues Texas over electoral maps they say discriminate against Black, Latinx voters

Attorney General Merrick Garland announced Monday that the U.S. Department of Justice is taking legal action against Texas over its new redistricting plan that disenfranchises Black and Latino voters.

The Biden administration filed its lawsuit in federal court in Texas, claiming the redistricted congressional and state legislature maps violate the Voting Rights Act, ABC News reports.

“The complaint we filed today alleges that Texas has violated Section Two by creating redistricting plans that deny or bridge the rights of Latino and Black voters to vote on account of their race, color or membership in a language-minority group,” Garland said at a news conference Monday. 

Activist Groups March And Rally For Voting Rights In Nation's Capital
Texas State Rep. Jasmine Crockett (D-100) (R)and co-founder and Executive Director of Black Voters Matter Cliff Albright (L) at a demonstration on voting rights outside National Museum of African American History and Culture on Aug. 4, 2021. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

“The department’s career voting law experts have assessed Texas’s new redistricting plans and determine that they include districts that violate the Voting Rights Act,” he added.

“The Legislature refused to recognize the State’s growing minority electorate,” the lawsuit states. “Although the Texas Congressional delegation expanded from 36 to 38 seats, Texas designed the two new seats to have Anglo voting majorities.”

As reported by The Associated Press, when Texas Republicans approved the redrawn U.S. House maps in October, Democrats “denounced the reduction of minority opportunity districts,” the outlet writes. 

“What we are doing in passing this congressional map is a disservice to the people of Texas,” Democratic state Rep. Rafael Anchia said to the chamber just before the final vote.

Texas added two seats in the U.S. House of Representatives after the 2020 census. 

“However, Texas has designed both of those new seats to have White voting majorities,” said Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta. “Instead, our investigation determined that Texas’ redistricting plans will dilute the increased minority voting strength that should have developed from these significant demographic shifts.”

The lawsuit alleges that by adopting a redistricted map, Texas “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.”

Pelosi, House Democrats Hold Press Event After After Voting Rights Vote
Members of the Texas State Legislature at a press event following the House of Representatives vote on H.R. 4, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, at the U.S. Capitol on Aug. 24, 2021. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

According to the lawsuit, Texas “failed to draw a seat encompassing the growing Latino electorate in Harris County” and “excised minority communities from the core of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.”

“Texas also eliminated Latino electoral opportunities in the State House plan through manipulation or outright elimination of districts where Latino communities previously had elected their preferred candidates,” says the lawsuit. 

In a tweet, the office of Attorney General Ken Paxton said the lawsuit was 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,” the attorney general’s office said.

Meanwhile, several individual voters and voters rights organizations have sued the state over the redistricting by Texas Republicans. This marks the third time the Department of Justice under the Biden administration has sued the state over an election issue.

Last month, the Biden administration sued Texas over a sweeping bill signed in September by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott that the DOJ argues violates federal civil rights protections, theGrio reported.

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