Merrick Garland Steps In To Fight Racist Texas Gerrymandering

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The Department of Justice has filed a lawsuit against Texas authorities over recently enacted redistricting plans in the state, which (among other issues) hand two new U.S. House districts to white majorities and decrease the number of Hispanic-majority U.S. House districts by one, despite the fact that non-white residents comprised the majority of the population growth that was recorded in Texas over the last 10 years. It’s this population growth that is responsible for Texas obtaining two new U.S. House districts at all, but the newly approved legislative district maps don’t reflect these facts.

As summarized by The Washington Post, federal authorities allege “that Republican state lawmakers [in Texas] discriminated against Latinos and other minorities when they approved new congressional and state legislature districts that increased the power of White voters.” The Justice Department’s lawsuit itself says, in part, as follows:

‘This is not the first time Texas has acted to minimize the voting rights of its minority citizens. Decade after decade, Texas has enacted redistricting plans that violate the Voting Rights Act. In enacting its 2021 Congressional and House plans, the State has again diluted the voting strength of minority Texans.’

This case constitutes the second time that federal authorities have recently taken Texas officials to court over voting rights-related issues. Recently, the Justice Department sued Texas over Senate Bill 1, specifically targeting those provisions that ban people assisting disabled voters “from providing necessary help, including answering basic questions, responding to requests to clarify ballot translations or confirming that voters with visual impairments have marked a ballot as intended,” as a press release explains. The department also targeted requirements for the “rejection of mail ballots and mail ballot request forms because of certain paperwork errors or omissions that are not [critical] to establishing a voter’s eligibility to cast a ballot,” that press release adds.

Across the country, Republicans in positions of state-level power have already been usurping the post-census redistricting process for their own political ends. In Ohio, for example, Republicans appear set to control 80 percent of the state’s U.S. House seats, despite the fact that Trump won there with a much smaller margin in 2020 — meaning that the map appears to fail to accurately reflect the political distribution of the population. Ohio’s map also impedes the ability of marginalized communities to participate in the political process, including through splitting suburbs with substantial populations of Black residents off from the city of Cincinnati and tacking them onto a district with white, Republican majorities.