As expected, the Biden administration is challenging new district maps drawn earlier this year by the Texas Legislature, claiming they violate the Voting Rights Act.
“The complaint filed today alleges that Texas has violated Section 2 [of the Voting Rights Act] by creating redistricting plans that deny or abridge the rights of Latino and black voters to vote on account of their race, color, or membership in a language minority group,” U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a press conference on Monday announcing the lawsuit.
Democrats in Biden’s Department of Justice claim Texas Republicans intentionally discriminated against protected classes of voters when drawing new voting boundaries for Congress and the state House.
The complaint says lawmakers “refused to recognize” growth in the state’s minority electorate since the last redistricting census in 2010.
According to DOJ attorneys, “The newly enacted redistricting plans will not allow minority voters an equal opportunity to elect representatives of their choice.”
“The Department of Justice’s absurd lawsuit against our state is the Biden Administration’s latest ploy to control Texas voters,” Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office responded. “I am confident that our legislature’s redistricting decisions will be proven lawful, and this preposterous attempt to sway democracy will fail.”
Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act prohibits any voting practice, including redistricting, that discriminates on the basis of race, color, or membership in a language minority group.
But partisan redistricting, where voting boundaries are drawn to favor one political party, was determined by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2019 to be beyond the purview of federal courts.
A legal battle over voting district lines could potentially delay Texas’ 2022 primary elections, which are currently slated for March 1.