Monday, December 6, 2021

DOJ Sues To Block TX Congressional Map

Attorney General Merrick Garland, announced Monday, that the Department of Justice (DOJ) has Sued to Block Texas’ Updated Congressional and State House Maps, alleging that the Districts Redrawn after the 2020 Census Disenfranchise Minorities in Violation of the Voting Rights Act (VRA).

The Suit, filed in Federal Court, alleges that the State of Texas is “refusing to recognize the State’s growing minority electorate.”

It asks the Court to Stop the State from Holding Elections under the New Maps and to Temporarily Redraw Texas’ Congressional and State House Districts.

It is the latest Voting-Rights Lawsuit from the DOJ, which Sued Texas last month, over the State’s recently Implemented New Election Law, which adds further Restrictions to Mail Voting and Banned Voting Practices, like Drive-Through and 24-hour Early Voting, piloted by Large Democratic-leaning Counties during the Pandemic.

“Texas's 2021 redistricting plans were enacted through a rushed process with minimal opportunity for public comment, without any expert testimony, and with an overall disregard for the massive minority population growth in Texas over the last decade,” Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta, the Third-Ranking Department Official, said at a Monday Press Conference.

The Suit Notes that Texas’ Past Redistricting Maps have Repeatedly been smacked down by Courts over the last several Decades. But Garland acknowledged during the Press Conference that this Case presents more Challenges than Past Decades because the so-called Preclearance Requirement, which Mandated that Jurisdictions with a History of Discriminatory Election Laws get Changes Approved by either the DOJ or a D.C.-based Federal Court, was Stopped because the Formula used to Determine Discrimination was Out-of-Date, by a mid-2010s Supreme Court Decision. But the Court told Congress to create a New Formula. The House passed the Change John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, but it is Stuck in the Senate.

“There are two problems: One, it means that we don’t get a chance to look at these things before they go into effect, which is a very significant aspect of our tools, and instead requires that we challenge every case individually,” Garland said. “And second, it flips the burden of proof.”

Texas’ New Congressional Map, Passed through the Republican-Controlled Legislature and Signed by Gov. Greg Abbott (R), shored up Republican Dominance of the Delegation. The Department noted in the Lawsuit that Texas's Congressional Delegation grew from 36 to 38 Districts, thanks to Growth from Minority Communities, but that "Texas designed the two new seats to have Anglo voting majorities."

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R), called the Lawsuit a "ploy to control" Texas Voters. "I am confident that our legislature's redistricting decisions will be proven lawful, and this preposterous attempt to sway democracy will fail," he continued.

The Suit takes particular Issue with the 23rd Congressional District, a Sprawling West Texas Seat now held by Rep. Tony Gonzales (R), accusing Texas Republicans of Intentionally Eliminating its Status as a District where Latinos could Elect their Candidate of Choice.

More than 50% of the Voting Age Population in the New 23rd District is Latino, but the DOJ claims, as it has in previous Litigation against other Iterations of this Seat, that GOP Mapmakers, swapped out Latinos who Vote Regularly with Low-Propensity Latino Voters. The End Result, the Suit says, is “an effort to strengthen the voting power of Anglo citizens while preserving the superficial appearance of Latino control.”

The suit also noted the Lack of a New Latino Opportunity Seat in Houston's Harris County, and Accused the Legislature of having “surgically excised minority communities from the core of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex (DFW) by attaching them to heavily Anglo rural counties, some more than a hundred miles away.”

The Suit also Singles Out the New 24th Congressional District, held by Freshman Rep. Beth Van Duyne (R). By Reducing the District’s swath of Northwest Dallas County, the Mapmakers dropped the Latino Citizen Voting Age Population from 40% to 23%. The Suit says the Map again Strengthens the Anglo Voting Bloc.

GOP Mapmakers created Three New deep Blue Seats, in Austin, Houston, and Dallas, to accommodate a Growing Number of Left-Leaning Voters and keep them from Overwhelming the Red-Leaning Districts surrounding them. None of those Seats have a Latino-Majority. Republicans will likely Control at least Two Dozen of the State’s 38 Seats under this New Map.

In the Houston area, the Suit Notes that the New 38th Congressional District was Drawn “to give Harris County’s shrinking Anglo population control of yet another Congressional seat” even though “most of that population growth occurred within the Latino community.” That Seat leans heavily Republican, and the current Frontrunner in the GOP Primary, Wesley Hunt, is Black.

Voting Rights Activists have Increasingly called on President Biden to be more Aggressive in pursuing that Bill and other Election-related Llegislation. But the White House has parried those Pleas by, in part, pointing to an Aggressive Justice Department.

I thought the Supreme Court was No longer allowing the Federal Courts to take Gerrymandering Cases and the Highest Court in a State was to Decide these Issues.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker

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