Attorney General Merrick Garland is making good on his promise to defend voting rights on a second front in the Lone Star State by going after Texas's obviously racially-motivated Republican gerrymander, and I hope North Carolina is next on his list.
The Justice Department on Monday sued Texas for the second time in a month over new voting laws, this time alleging that Republican state lawmakers discriminated against Latinos and other minorities when they approved new congressional and state legislature districts that increased the power of White voters.
Attorney General Merrick Garland’s announcement marked the department’s first major legal action on redistricting at a time when Democrats have warned that GOP-controlled state legislatures are seeking to improperly redraw voting precincts to aid Republican candidates ahead of the 2022 midterms and 2024 presidential election.
“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,” the Justice Department said in its lawsuit. “In enacting its 2021 Congressional and House plans, the State has again diluted the voting strength of minority Texans.”
Texas GOP leaders have said the congressional maps were approved by lawyers who determined the districts complied with voting rights laws.
But the maps have also drawn two legal challenges from advocacy groups, including one filed last month by a group affiliated with Eric H. Holder Jr., who led the Justice Department in the Obama administration.
Garland’s decision to pursue litigation comes just weeks after the Justice Department sued Texas over a separate law that federal officials would disenfranchise eligible voters, including older Americans and people with disabilities, by banning 24-hour and drive-through voting and giving partisan poll watchers more access.
Texas lawmakers approved the new congressional boundaries in October after a redistricting process led by Republicans, who control the state Senate and House.
As utterly dismantled as the Voting Rights Act is right now in the Roberts Court era, the one part of the legislation that remains is the "one person, one vote" standard...for now. We'll see how long that holds.