On Monday, before the Texas legislature approved their congressional redistricting maps, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund filed a lawsuit against Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and acting Deputy Secretary of State Jose Esparaza over the state’s redistricting maps.
While the maps wait for Abbott’s official signature of approval, lawsuits against the maps start with the League of United Latin American Citizens and other Latino driven organizations.
Since the population grew by four million since 2010, Texas was the only state given two more additional congressional seats. But despite the Latino population growing in numbers and the white population decreasing, according to the 2020 census, the additional congressional seats were drawn in majority white areas.
When asked in committee about the lack of representation, Sen. Joan Huffman, R-Houston who chairs the Senate Special Committee on Redistricting said Republicans drew the maps race blind.
Nevertheless, LULAC and other Latino organizations argue in their lawsuit that the maps dilute the voting strength of Latinos.
The redistricting maps also discriminate against Latino voters statewide, and in specific districts, by intentionally manipulating district boundaries to reduce Latino voting strength and by making improper and excessive use of race in redistricting, according to the filing.
For context, in the suit, organizations use the example of Harris County, whose Latino population grew by 363,169, but the maps didn’t add a majority Latino House district in the county. Moreover, the suit states the maps concentrate the Latino population in one area and under-populate the Anglo vote in other districts.
The plaintiffs also argue that the maps are discriminating against the plaintiffs on the basis of race and national origin and unconstitutional population deviation of the Equal Protection Clause in the 14th amendment.
Additionally, the lawsuit states the maps violate section two of the Voting Rights Act, which prohibits voting procedures on the basis of race, color, or membership in one of a language minority group.
In a statement released on Monday, MALDEF President and General Counsel Thomas A. Saenz said the legal fight for Latino representation isn’t just in Texas.
“Even as we continue our legal challenge to the redistricting maps adopted by an Illinois Legislature controlled by Democrats, MALDEF now challenges Texas maps adopted by a state legislature controlled by Republicans; violation of voting rights is not a partisan issue,” he said. “Still, Texas has a uniquely deplorable record in its consistent disregard of Latino population growth over half a century of redistricting.”
MALDEF was successful in challenging the Republican drawn maps after the 2010 Census Bureau when a federal court found them discriminatory against people of color. Only time will tell if these maps are ruled the same.
Kennedy is a recent graduate of the University of St.Thomas in Houston where she served as Editor-in-Chief of the Celt Independent. Kennedy brings her experience of writing about social justice issues to the Texas Signal where she serves as our Political Reporter. She does everything from covering crime beats, Texas politics, and community activism. Kennedy is a passionate reporter, avid reader, coffee enthusiast, and loves to travel.