Justice Department Says Texas Redistricting Map Violates Voting Rights Act, Discriminates Against Minority Voters

The Department of Justice weighed in today on the controversial Texas redistricting map that Gov. Rick Perry signed in May and civil rights groups argue intentionally weakens the Latino vote to benefit Republicans. The DOJ signaled their concern that the map discriminates against minorities and therefore violates the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The DOJ would usually have to “pre-clear” such changes to make sure they don’t unfairly affect minority voters, but Texas chose to skip that process, putting the fate of the new congressional map in the hands of a three-judge panel. In their court filing, the DOJ “den[ies] that the proposed Congressional plan complies with Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act” because it does not “maintain or increase the ability of minority voters to elect their candidate of choice in each district” compared to the benchmark. However, the DOJ also sides with the state of Texas on several charges and agrees that some parts of the new plan do not violate the VRA.