In one of the first steps in the nationwide redistricting process following the release of the 2020 Census data, the Republican-led Texas state legislature approved redrawn maps for its U.S. House districts late Monday night. Gov. Greg Abbott is expected to sign off on the changes but may face legal battles first. In a lawsuit filed before the Texas legislature, civil rights groups accused the state of diluting the political strength of minority voters. Those groups include the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF).
“Despite having only recently been found liable by a federal court for intentional racial discrimination in redistricting, Texas has once again adopted plans that dilute Latino voting strength,” MALDEF Vice President of Litigation Nina Perales said in a news release. “The new redistricting plans are an unlawful attempt to thwart the changing Texas electorate and should be struck down.” MALDEF is also challenging the redistricting maps adopted by a Democrat-led Illinois legislature.
The redrawn Texas maps reduce the number of House districts where Latino residents hold a majority of the population from eight to seven, and did not create any additional districts where Black or Hispanic voters make up the majority. This, despite people of color accounting for more than 90 percent of new residents in Texas over the past decade.
Republican state Sen. Joan Huffman authored the redrawn maps and leads the Texas Senate Redistricting Committee. She told fellow lawmakers that they were “drawn blind to race,” saying her legal team ensured the plan followed the Voting Rights Act.
The state has had to defend their district maps in court after every redistricting process since the Voting Rights Act took effect in 1965. However, this will be the first since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled states with a history of racial discrimination no longer need to have the Justice Department scrutinize the maps before they are approved.