Remarks as Delivered
Thank you, Attorney General Garland.
The right to vote is foundational to our democracy, and the Justice Department is charged with protecting that right. Today, we are filing suit against the State of Texas based on our determination that Texas’ 2021 Redistricting Plans violate Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. The department reached that determination after a careful assessment of the facts and the law.
I want to thank the career staff of the Civil Rights Division’s Voting Section for their tremendous efforts on this investigation.
Our complaint today alleges that the redistricting plans approved by the Texas state legislature and signed into law by the Governor will deny Black and Latino voters an equal opportunity to participate in the voting process and to elect representatives of their choice, in violation of the Voting Rights Act. Our complaint also alleges that several of those districts were drawn with discriminatory intent.
Texas’ 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. Texas’ population grew by 4 million people from 2010 to 2020, and 95% of that growth came from minority populations. Despite this significant increase in the number and proportion of eligible Latino and Black voters in Texas, the newly enacted redistricting plans will not allow minority voters an equal opportunity to elect representatives of their choice. Instead, our investigation determined that Texas’ redistricting plans will dilute the increased minority voting strength that should have developed from these significant demographic shifts.
For example, Texas will gain two new Congressional seats because of its population growth, almost all of which is due to growth in the state’s minority population. However, Texas has designed both of those new seats to have white voting majorities.
The congressional plan also deliberately reconfigured a West Texas district to eliminate the opportunity for Latino voters to elect a representative of their choice. This is the third time in three decades where Texas has eliminated a Latino electoral opportunity in this same district, despite previous court determinations that this violates the law.
And the State House plan eliminated Latino electoral opportunities by manipulating or eliminating districts where Latino communities previously had elected their preferred candidates.
These redistricting plans will diminish the opportunities for Latino and Black voters in Texas to elect their preferred representatives. And that is prohibited by federal law.
The complaint asks the court to prohibit Texas from conducting elections under the challenged plans and asks the court to order Texas to devise and implement new redistricting plans that comply with Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. The complaint also asks the court to establish interim plans pending a lawful state redistricting.
This is not the first time Texas has acted to minimize the voting rights of its minority citizens. Decade after decade, courts have found that Texas has enacted redistricting plans that deliberately dilute the voting strength of Latino and Black voters and that violate the Voting Rights Act.
The Attorney General has made clear that the Justice Department will not stand idly by in the face of unlawful attempts to restrict access to the ballot. Today’s filing demonstrates that commitment to this charge.
The Justice Department stands ready to protect the constitutionally guaranteed voting rights of Americans in Texas and indeed throughout the country.