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U.S. Sues Texas Over ‘Discriminatory’ Redistricting Plan (2)

Dec. 6, 2021, 8:10 PM

The Justice Department sued Texas to block a new redistricting plan for congressional seats, alleging it was crafted to intentionally diminish the power of Black and Latino voters who made up the bulk of the state’s population growth over the past decade.

Texas gained two new seats in Congress after the 2020 Census due to a large increase in its minority voters, but the state designed the districts to have White voting majorities in violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, the U.S. said in a suit filed Monday in federal court in El Paso.

“Texas has a long history of official discrimination touching on the right to vote,” the Justice Department said in the complaint.

U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland said at a press conference in Washington that the redistricting plan is among the first to be drafted since the Supreme Court largely scrapped vetting of such changes by the Justice Department. In 2013, the high court all but invalidated a provision of the law designed to protect the rights of minority voters.

Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta added that the Texas plan “will deny Black and Latino voters an equal opportunity to participate in the election process” and that several of the districts were “enacted through a rushed process with a minimal opportunity for public comment.”

‘Absurd’ Ploy

In a statement posted on Twitter, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton called the lawsuit an “absurd” ploy to control the state’s voters.

“I am confident that our legislature’s redistricting decisions will be proven lawful, and this preposterous attempt to sway democracy will fail,” Paxton said.

The lawsuit adds to the legal clashes between the Biden administration and Texas. The federal government has sued over a recently passed state voting law as well as its ban on most abortions.

The complaint notes that Texas grew by nearly 4 million residents between 2010 and 2020, and the minority population represents 95% of that growth. Even so, the Texas legislature “refused to recognize” the growing minority electorate when its congressional delegation expanded from 36 to 38 seats, the U.S. says.

“Texas designed the two new seats to have Anglo voting majorities,” the Justice Department said in the complaint. “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.”

The Justice Department also claims the redistricting plan “surgically excised” minority areas from the center of the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area by “attaching them to heavily Anglo rural counties, some more than a hundred miles away,” according to the complaint.

The case is U.S. v. Texas, 3:21-cv-00299, U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas (El Paso).

(Updates with comment from Texas attorney general.)

To contact the reporter on this story:
Erik Larson in New York at elarson4@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story:
Katia Porzecanski at kporzecansk1@bloomberg.net

Steve Stroth

© 2021 Bloomberg L.P. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

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