Erik (HASH) Hersman via Flickr creative commons
Latinx people accounted for half of Texas' population growth over the past decade, but state lawmakers didn't increase the number of Latinx-majority districts.
, civil rights groups have sued to overturn Texas' newly redrawn political maps, firing the first salvo in what's expected to be a protracted legal battle before the redistricting plans even reached Gov. Greg Abbott's desk.
A federal lawsuit
filed Monday in El Paso challenges the new maps drawn by the Republican-controlled Texas Legislature, arguing that the districts violate the constitution by minimizing the political power of Latinx voters. What's more, it alleges the new maps violate the federal Voting Rights Act.
The suit's plaintiffs are represented by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), which won a similar challenge to Texas' last redistricting in 2010. A federal court ultimately ruled that lawmakers discriminated against voters of color by trying to dilute their votes.
“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 written statement. “The new redistricting plans are an unlawful attempt to thwart the changing Texas electorate and should be struck down.”
Latinx people accounted for half of Texas' population growth over the past decade, resulting in two new congressional seats for the state. Despite the significant growth in the Latinx population, lawmakers didn't increase the number of Latinx-majority districts.
In addition to half a dozen individual voters, the plaintiffs in the suit includes civil rights groups such as LULAC, the Southwest Voter Registration Education Project and the American GI Forum. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Deputy Secretary of State Jose A. Esparza are the named defendants.
Additional suits aren't just possible but likely, according to legal experts. Court precedent suggests judges will pitch out maps that can be proven to deprive Black or Latino areas of new representation, they maintain.
"Seeing the proposed plans now by the state, they'll be easy to beat," St. Mary's University law professor Albert Kauffman told the Current
in late September. Kauffman spent two decades as MALDEF's senior litigating attorney.
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