Politics

Department of Justice sues Texas over new voting districts

On Monday, the Justice Department filed a lawsuit in federal court to challenge Texas Republicans’ plan for redrawing voting districts based on new census figures. The suit claims the new maps are in violation of the Voting Rights Act.

Attorney General Merrick Garland said at a news conference that Texas’ redrawn congressional and state legislative districts “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,” which he notes is a violation of the Voting Rights Act.

Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta added that the maps were drawn with discriminatory intent in a rushed process, disregarding the fact that much of the state’s population growth has been driven by black and Hispanic residents. “Our investigation determined that Texas’ redistricting plans will dilute the increased minority voting strength that should have developed from these significant demographic shifts,” she said. 

After the 2020 census, Texas was granted two more congressional seats, but Gupta said the two new seats have white voting majorities, and there is not a single new district with a majority of black or Hispanic voters.

This suit marks the second the Justice Department has pursued against Texas this fall, as last month, the department alleged in a lawsuit that S.B.1, Texas’ new voting law, made it more difficult to assist voters with disabilities or decreased English proficiency.

Garland has been urging Congress to pass voting legislation throughout the year to restore the section of the Voting Rights Act that required the Justice Department to clear election changes in areas with history of discrimination. The Supreme Court ruled in 2013 that the formula for deciding which jurisdictions were included was unconstitutional.  

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton responded to the suit in a tweet from his office calling the ordeal “absurd.” His office wrote, “The Department of Justice’s absurd lawsuit against our state is the Biden Administrations 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.” 

ARTICLE: ELIZABETH HERTZBERG

MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE

PHOTO CREDITS: BAY NEWS 9

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