On Monday, the United States Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against Texas over the state’s recently redrawn congressional district maps pushed by GOP leadership and passed roughly on party-line votes. The key argument behind President Biden’s DOJ lawsuit is that Texas has violated Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, which prohibits voting practices or procedures that discriminate on the basis of race, color, or language.
Following the completion of the 2020 Census, Texas gained two additional congressional seats ahead of the 2022 elections. This increases its congressional delegation from 36 representatives to 38, and these two additional seats have majority-white voting populations, despite most population growth coming from non-white Texans.
The Department of Justice stated the new district lines that include Harris County have “failed to draw a seat encompassing the growing Latino electorate.” Prior to 2013, states with a history of racial gerrymandering would be required by the Voting Rights Act to seek approval from the federal government regarding new district lines—what was known as “preclearance.” The 2013 Supreme Court ruling Shelby County v. Holder removed the preclearance requirement.
When announcing the lawsuit on Monday, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland requested that Congress restore the Justice Department’s preclearance authority so that its efforts to combat Voting Rights Act violations would yield more accountability.