The Justice Department announced Monday that it had filed a lawsuit against the state of Texas and the Texas attorney general, challenging the state’s congressional and statehouse redistricting plans.
The lawsuit notes that Texas is one of the most diverse states in the nation, in which non-Latino whites make up less than 40 percent of the population, and that Texas grew by nearly 4 million residents between the 2010 and 2020 censuses, with minorities making up 95 percent of that growth. Despite these facts, the Texas legislature designed the new House seats to have white majorities and eliminated Latino electoral opportunities at the statehouse level. The complaint alleges that the redistricting plans violate Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act “because it has the discriminatory purpose of denying or abridging the right to vote on account of race.”
In his remarks, Attorney General Merrick Garland said that the Justice Department would “use all available authorities and resources to continue protecting the right to vote.” He also noted that the department filed a separate voting rights lawsuit against Texas last month, challenging a law that restricts the assistance disabled voters can receive in the voting booth. Garland concluded his remarks by urging Congress to restore preclearance authority to the Justice Department, saying, “Were that preclearance tool still in place, we would likely not be here today announcing this complaint.”
Associate attorney general Vanita Gupta called the right to vote “foundational” and said, “These redistricting plans will diminish the opportunities for Latino and Black voters in Texas to elect their preferred representatives. And that is prohibited by federal law.” The complaint asks the court to enjoin the state from enacting the redistricting plans and to establish interim plans that comply with the Voting Rights Act.
The Texas attorney general’s office tweeted that the Justice Department’s lawsuit was “absurd” and expressed confidence that the state’s redistricting plans would be upheld.