The Department of Justice has filed a lawsuit against Galveston County, Texas, challenging its redistricting plan for the Commissioners Court. The move comes following the county’s decision to adopt a new map after data was published about population growth in the 2020 Census. As previously reported, the agency found that between 2010 and 2020, communities of color had grown by 95 percent.
On March 24, representatives from the DOJ filed a lawsuit alleging the county’s plan violated Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, noting how the new map did not give Black and Hispanic voters “the opportunity to elect a candidate of choice to the county’s governing body.” The DOJ also argued that the new provision intentionally excluded Black and Brown community members from the political process. The suit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas on Thursday.
“This action is the latest demonstration of the Justice Department’s commitment to protecting the voting rights of all Americans, particularly during the current redistricting cycle,” Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division said in a statement. “We will continue to use all available tools to challenge voting discrimination in our country.”
The DOJ’s lawsuit also alleged that Galveston county had “deliberately reconfigured the Commissioners Court” with the sole purpose of eliminating electoral opportunities for Black and Hispanic voters.
A similar issue sparked concerns in Wisconsin on Wednesday, following the Supreme Court’s decision to toss out a law that would have created a majority-Black voting district to rebalance the state’s disproportioned Assembly and Senate districts. After the GOP-led Wisconsin Legislature and Gov. Tony Evers failed to reach an agreement on the new redistricting plan, the Wisconsin Supreme Court intervened, demanding for both parties to draft new map proposals. Still, ultimately, the governor’s redistricting plan was thrown out.
Evers argued that the current map excluded Milawuakee’s growing Black population, leaving Black residents crammed into too few districts. Adding a seventh zone could help Black voters regain political power. However, the Supreme Court chose the map of the state’s Republican legislature, which made very few changes to the current system.
Republicans claimed that Evers did not present sufficient evidence to support the need for a seventh majority-Black district and that the plan violated the Voting Rights Act. According to Slate, the Court used a shadow docket to issue Wednesday’s ruling making it unclear as to who actually voted in favor of the new redistricting plan.