(Photo: Texas Legislative Council)
The U.S. Department of Justice on Monday rejected Texas’ redistricting plan because of proposed congressional and Texas House maps that the agency says would disenfranchise minority voters. The state is one of several mostly Southern states required to get pre-clearance from the federal government for any such changes because it has a history of discrimination. This is the first redistricting period in 40 years in which Democrats have controlled both the White House and DOJ.
In its filing to a three-court judge panel that heard arguments in the case last week, the agency said the proposed House and congressional plans do not meet the necessary benchmarks to ensure that minority voters have the same or greater opportunities to elect candidates of their choosing.
As a result of demographic shifts and a surging Latino population in particular, Texas will add four new congressional districts. Only 10 of the 36 districts in its new map are minority districts.
The Texas NAACP, one of the plaintiffs in the case, has argued that the map should include a fourth district that would be represented by an African-American, The Associated Press reports.
“We think if you start looking at fairness, there should be at least an additional African-American opportunity district,” said attorney Gary Bledsoe.