DOJ rejects two Texas maps

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September 23, 2011

BP Redistricting logo.jpg

By Jimmy Ardis

Texas: The legal tangle over redistricting in Texas gained another knot this week when the Department of Justice rejected two of the state's four maps. Texas chose to submit its redistricting maps to a DC-based federal panel of judges to obtain Voting Rights Act preclearance this cycle, opting out of the traditional route of submitting the plans directly to the DOJ. While the formal preclearance submission was filed in federal court, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott also informally submitted the maps to the DOJ in an effort to gain federal approval and speed up the process.[1]

On Monday the DOJ filed a response with the DC federal court rejecting Texas's request for preclearance, arguing that the state's Congressional and State Assembly maps violate the Voting Rights Act. The DOJ didn't declare the state's Senate and Board of Education maps illegal, but that doesn't mean Texas is in the clear with those two maps either. The final decision will come from the three-judge panel.[1]

A San Antonio federal court heard closing arguments in a similar, but separate, redistricting case last Friday. The case is a consolidation of a number of like-cases claiming that the maps recently passed by the Texas State Legislature fail to give proportionate voting power to minorities. The San Antonio judges have decided to await the outcome of the DC case before delivering their decision.[1]

Meanwhile, two Texas Democrats filed yet another redistricting lawsuit this week after the DOJ deemed the Texas State Senate map in compliance with the Voting Rights Act. The lawmakers insist that there is evidence that the Senate map violates the Act.[2]

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