The U.S. Department of Justice sued Texas on Monday alleging the state violated the Voting Rights Act by creating redistricting plans that intentionally discriminate against Black and Latino voters by minimizing their voting strength, Reuters reports.
In his remarks, Attorney General Merrick Garland said that Texas violated Section 2 of the VRA, which requires “that state voting laws – including laws that draw electoral maps – provide eligible voters with an equal opportunity to participate in the democratic process and elect representatives of their choosing.”
Electoral maps determine a voting district’s racial makeup, and the process of gerrymandering can weaken the voting power of Black voters depending on how districts are drawn.
As Garland stated:
In September, the department published guidance based on decades of precedent explaining that Section 2 prohibits “vote dilution.” Vote dilution occurs when an electoral practice minimizes or cancels out the voting strength of members of a racial group or language minority group.
When we issued that guidance, I noted that discriminatory redistricting schemes are illegal and that the department would “assess jurisdictions’ compliance with those laws during this redistricting cycle.”
According to Garland, voting law experts “assessed Texas’s new redistricting plans and determined that they include districts that violate the Voting Rights Act.”
The complaint also states that, “[s]oon after the release of 2020 Census data, the Texas Legislature enacted redistricting plans for the Texas Congressional delegation and the Texas House through an extraordinarily rapid and opaque legislative process.”
As per Reuters, “[t]he lawsuit is the first filed by the Justice Department during President Joe Biden’s administration taking aim at redistricting, the once-a-decade process that state legislatures use to redraw congressional districts.”