AUSTIN, Texas - On Monday, the Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against the state of Texas over its latest redistricting maps.
New political districts were drawn for the State Senate, State House, U.S. House and State Board of Education during the third special session.
The federal lawsuit is not the first of its kind. "We at Mi Familia Vota think it’s great that the Department of Justice is also recognizing that the Texas maps violate the Voting Rights Act," said Angelica Razo, Texas state director at Mi Familia Vota.
Razo’s organization, which worked hard to make sure minorities were counted in the 2020 Census, was involved in a prior lawsuit. It essentially makes the same accusation against Texas lawmakers.
"Us fighting is fighting for fair representation," said Razo. "‘We’re not fighting for more, but simply fighting for representation based off of the 2020 Census data."
The data shows that between 2010 and 2020, Texas grew by nearly 4 million people. The minority population was responsible for 95% of that growth. The issue at hand is whether or not the new maps accurately reflect those numbers.
"For example, the current map gives white voters control of two new congressional districts, and those two congressional districts had explosive population growth in the Latino population," said Eddy Carder, a constitutional law professor at Prairie View A&M.
Carder said it’s clear that this is indeed an attempt to 'preserve the white vote.' "This map is absolutely passed and established with the intent of disenfranchising minority voters and voters of color," said Carder.
However, former Texas GOP chairman James Dickey believes that argument isn’t realistic. "We don’t live in the days anymore where democrats force every black person in Austin to live east of I-35, thank God we don’t," he said. "We have diverse communities."
He also pointed out that the process of redistricting is complicated - taking into account the literal landscape along with the political landscape.
"You’re trying to figure out, how do we have a district that is representative to the greatest extent possible, doesn’t split in the middle of a neighborhood, does not split in the middle of a town," said Dickey. "The goal always is to make sure to represent the state as a whole, and I believe the legislation has done a good job of that."
Ultimately, Dickey said this was another example of the Biden administration taking aim at Texas.
"A couple years ago, the Supreme Court said the only grounds for bringing any lawsuit against redistricting from now on is racial discrimination," he said. "So, if you’re going to fight the redistricting at all, this is the claim you have to make."
Previously, state lawmakers had to submit their redistricting maps to the federal government for review before gaining approval. Because that is now no longer the case, the issue is now left up to the courts. It could be a lengthy process, which is less than ideal for those opposed to the new districts.
"A number of election cycles are going to take place, and the redistricting map is going to be utilized and affirmed until we are otherwise told if it is unconstitutional," said Carder.