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Justice Department Sues Texas Over New Maps

Attorney general says redrawn districts discriminate against minorities
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 6, 2021 2:09 PM CST
Justice Department Sues Texas Over New Maps
Attorney General Merrick Garland.   (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

(Newser) – The Department of Justice sued Texas over new redistricting maps Monday, saying the plans discriminate against voters in the state’s booming Latino and Black populations, per the AP. The lawsuit, filed in the Western District of Texas, claims the state violates part of the Voting Rights Act. It is the first filing challenging a state’s maps from the Biden Justice Department during this redistricting cycle. Legal experts anticipate a blizzard of litigation as states redraw their legislative lines. 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 that state Republicans drew doesn’t give any of these communities new opportunities to choose their own representatives.

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Instead, the maps pack Black and Latino communities into oddly-shaped districts—a Dallas-area one is referred to as a “seahorse” shape—while preserving safe seats for white Republicans, per the lawsuit. Attorney General Merrick Garland wants the court to prohibit any elections from taking place under the new maps and to temporarily redraw them, per Politico. Texas has had to defend their maps in court after every redistricting process since the Voting Rights Act took effect in 1965, but this will be the first since a US Supreme Court ruling said Texas and other states with a history of racial discrimination no longer need to have the Justice Department scrutinize the maps before they are approved.

Examples cited by the AP: In west Texas’ competitive 23rd district, the map trimmed out areas near El Paso and San Antonio to lower the share of Latino voting-age residents by 9%. In the Dallas area it pulled Black and Latino residents of the northwest suburbs out of the district of Rep. Beth Van Duyne, who narrowly won her reelection bid against a Democratic Black Latina candidate last year. In the Houston area, where the share of the white population is dwindling, the map kept six of 10 House districts as white-majority or plurality districts. (Read more Texas stories.)

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