WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a lawsuit against Texas over its new state House and congressional maps passed following the release of 2020 census data. The lawsuit was announced during a televised press conference, during which U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland noted that this is the first round of redistricting without Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) after the U.S. Supreme Court gutted it in 2013. Section 5 required Texas, which has a long history of enacting redistricting plans that violate the VRA, to obtain federal approval before any new maps went into effect. With Section 5 no longer in place, the DOJ is filing this suit under Section 2 of the VRA, arguing that Texas “has again diluted the voting strength of minority Texans and continued its refusal to comply with the Voting Rights Act, absent intervention by the Attorney General or the federal courts.” There are already seven other lawsuits — six in federal court, one in state court — challenging the results of Texas’ 2021 redistricting cycle.
The lawsuit filed today alleges that Texas’ new state House and congressional maps violate Section 2 of the VRA because they result “in a denial or abridgement of the right of citizens of the United States to vote on account of race, color, or membership in a language minority group.” The complaint also alleges that the congressional map was intentionally drawn to dilute the voting strength of the state’s minority populations, particularly Black and Latino voters. The complaint argues that the GOP-controlled Texas Legislature failed to account for the state’s large minority population growth over the last decade and instead intentionally eliminated districts, particularly Latino electoral opportunity districts, “through an extraordinarily rapid and opaque legislative process.” The lawsuit asks the court to block the use of the challenged maps in future elections and order the creation of new maps that comply with Section 2.