A group of Black and Latino Texans are accusing GOP lawmakers in their state of tampering with voter district lines in an effort to keep control over the increasingly majority-minority state.
The plaintiffs, composed largely of Black and Latino voters, have filed suit, claiming that lawmakers drew new district boundaries for the U.S. House of Representatives and the Texas House that would, in effect, thin the numbers of Latinos and Blacks represented and keep both primarily Democratic voting blocs from making an impact at the polls. Creating racially gerrymandered voting maps that are intended to harm a specific racial group is against the Voting Rights Act of the U.S. Constitution.
The racial representation in the Texas legislature stands in stark contrast with the racial makeup of the population, a fact of which advocates say the Republican majority is acutely aware. Of the 32 members of Texas' congressional delegation, over half are Republican, only six are Latino, and three are Black. Meanwhile, the total population of Texas is nearly 40 percent Hispanic and 11.8 percent African-American.
"The map is as extreme a gerrymander as humanly possible," Lawyer Gerald Hebert, who represents a group of plaintiffs in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, told the American-Statesman.
Although cases alleging illegal redistricting are commonplace, this recent battle may be a result of the state’s growing pains as data shows it is one of the country’s fastest growing minority-majority states — where the population of ethnic minorities as a whole has surpassed that of whites. According to the Brookings Institution, non-white people and Latinos accounted for 98 percent of the population growth in metropolitan areas in the U.S. from 2000 to 2010.
"Overall, most of these 'majority minority' metro areas are located in California and Texas, where Hispanics dominate the minority population," Brookings said.