NATIONAL NEWS

Justice Department sues Texas over new redistricting maps

Dec 6, 2021, 12:58 PM
Attorney General Merrick B. Garland speaks at a press conference at the Department of Justice on ...
Attorney General Merrick B. Garland speaks at a press conference at the Department of Justice on December 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. Garland and Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta held the press conference to announce that the Justice department was suing Texas over their recent redistricting which the department says violates the Voting Rights Act. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)
(Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — The Justice Department sued Texas over new redistricting maps Monday, saying the plans discriminate against the very Black and Latino voters who have fueled the state’s population boom.

The lawsuit, filed in the Western District of Texas, claims the Republican-controlled state violated part of the Voting Rights Act in drawing up new maps for its congressional delegation and state legislature. The case is the first legal action challenging a state’s maps from the Biden Justice Department during this redistricting cycle.

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.

Instead, the maps pack Black and Latino communities into bizarre-shaped districts — a Dallas-area one is referred to as a “seahorse” shape — while preserving safe seats for white Republicans.

“This is not the first time that Texas has acted to minimize the voting rights of its minority citizens,” Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta said during a press conference with Attorney General Merrick Garland. “Decade after decade, courts have found that Texas has enacted redistricting plans that deliberately dilute the voting strength of Latino and Black voters and that violate the Voting Rights Act.”

The lawsuit cites several congressional districts where Republicans drew tortured lines to lower the share of Black and Latino voters in their party’s congressional districts.

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.

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 2013 U.S. Supreme Court ruling gutted a provision of the Voting Rights Act that had required Texas and other states with a history of racial discrimination to have the Justice Department approve the maps.

Texas’s Attorney General, Ken Paxton, condemned the litigation as an intrusion by the Democratic administration. “The Department of Justice’s absurd lawsuit against our state is the Biden Administration’s latest ploy to control Texas voters,” Paton tweeted. “I am confident that our legislature’s redistricting decisions will be proven lawful, and this preposterous attempt to sway democracy will fail.”

The lawsuit will also play out during a changed legal landscape for redistricting challenges. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2019 that it won’t referee partisan gerrymandering disputes — maps drawn to benefit a political party.

However, federal courts remain open to claims of racial gerrymandering. Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act prohibits mapmakers from diluting the voting power of minorities by scattering them among districts and preventing them from choosing their own candidates.

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

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

National News

Emergency lights...
Associated Press

Police say restaurant workers shot in argument over mayo

Police say a man who complained there was too much mayonnaise on his sandwich opened fire at a Subway sandwich shop in Atlanta, killing one employee and injuring another.
11 hours ago
Law enforcement officers stand inside the secure perimeter of the U.S. Supreme Court Building as pr...
JESSICA GRESKO, Associated Press

Supreme Court sides with coach who sought to pray after game

The Supreme Court has sided with a football coach from Washington state who sought to kneel and pray on the field after games.
11 hours ago
NASA has carried out its first commercial spaceport launch outside the United States. (Equatorial L...
Kathleen Magramo, CNN

NASA launches first rocket from Australian space center

NASA has successfully launched a rocket from Australia's remote Northern Territory, making history as the agency's first commercial spaceport launch outside the United States.
11 hours ago
(Nampa Police Department/Facebook)...
Josh Ellis

Amber Alert canceled after Idaho children found

Nampa police have issued an Amber Alert for two children they say were abducted by their babysitter who may be using drugs.
11 hours ago
Catherine Martin, Austin Butler, Olivia DeJonge, Baz Luhrmann and Tom Hanks attends the Australian ...
JAKE COYLE, AP Film Writer

‘Elvis,’ ‘Top Gun’ tie for box-office crown with $30.5M each

Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis Presley biopic “Elvis” shook up theaters with an estimated $30.5 million in weekend ticket sales, but — in a box-office rarity — “Elvis” tied “Top Gun: Maverick,” which also reported $30.5 million, for No. 1 in theaters.
11 hours ago
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - JUNE 26: Bleu speak onstage during the 2022 BET Awards at Microsoft Theat...
JONATHAN LANDRUM Jr. AP Entertainment Writer

Stars use BET Awards stage to criticize Roe v. Wade ruling

Big stars used the BET Awards stage to strongly criticize the Supreme Court’s recent decision to strip away women’s constitutional protection for abortion.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

hand holding 3d rendering mobile connect with security camera for security solutions...
Les Olson

Wondering what security solutions are right for you? Find out more about how to protect your surroundings

Physical security helps everyone. Keep your employees, clients, and customers safe with security solutions that protect your workplace.
Many rattan pendant lights, hay hang from the ceiling.Traditional and simple lighting....
Lighting Design

The Best Ways to Style Rattan Pendant Lighting in Your Home

Rattan pendant lights create a rustic and breezy feel, and are an easy way to incorporate this hot trend into your home decor.
Earth day 2022...
1-800-GOT-JUNK?

How Are You Celebrating Earth Day 2022? | 4 Simple Ways to Celebrate Earth Day and Protect the Environment

Earth Day is a great time to reflect on how we can be more environmentally conscious. Here are some tips for celebrating Earth Day.
Get Money Online...

More Ways to Get Money Online Right Now in Your Spare Time

Here are 4 easy ways that you can get more money online if you have some free time and want to make a little extra on the side.
Lighting trends 2022...

Lighting Trends 2022 | 5 Beautiful Home Lighting Trends You Can Expect to See this Year and Beyond

This is where you can see the latest lighting trends for 2022 straight from the Lightovation Show at the Dallas World Trade Center.
What Can't You Throw Away in the Trash...

What Can’t You Throw Away in the Trash? | 5 Things You Shouldn’t Throw in to Your Trash Can

What can't you throw away in the trash? Believe it or not, there are actually many items that shouldn't be thrown straight into the trash.
Justice Department sues Texas over new redistricting maps