The fight over the state’s controversial congressional redistricting maps continues — and still has a long way to go. Extensive efforts are underway to correct what critics say is voter intimidation and discrimination in Texas as we head into the 2022 midterm elections.
The latest update comes in a trial filed by the League of United Latin American Citizens and several other civil rights groups. On Monday, a federal judge issued a sweeping discovery order requiring Texas state lawmakers to turn over documents related to redistricting plans, as reported by Courthouse News Service.
In a separate case, various civil rights groups are also suing the state over a new election security law, which they say is “designed to intimidate and harass voters.” In May, another federal judge allowed the case to continue.
Along with the groups, the US Department of Justice joined in both lawsuits.
This isn’t the first time Republican lawmakers in Texas have come under fire for diluting the power of minority voters. In 2003, the United States Supreme Court ruled that a West Texas congressional district had been unlawfully racist, but otherwise upheld those voting cards. And in 2011, the redistricting plans sparked similar controversy – seven years later, that legal battle was still ongoing.
The latest legal battle began after the 2020 census in Texas. Texas gained nearly 4 million people in 2020 and was the only state to gain two additional congressional seats. Even though racial minorities accounted for 95% of the population increase and Latinos 50%, the new maps did not adequately represent these new voters.
In an initial complaint in October, the League of United Latin American Citizens argued that state officials were trying to “illegally dilute the voting power of Latinos.”
“The failure … to create at least one additional Latino-majority home district statewide means that Latinos have lost their voting strength in Texas,” the lawsuit alleges.
In November, the Ministry of Justice also joined those suing state officials, because Texas redistricting plans had raised questions about possible violations of voting rights law.
Since then, Texas lawmakers have fought against subpoenas, citing attorney-client privilege and refusing to turn over documents. As a result, according to the federal government, lawmakers released “only one-third” of the documents requested in the subpoenas.
According to the press service of the courthouseObama-appointed U.S. District Court Judge David Guaderrama sided with arguments from the DOJ and civil rights groups, saying Texas lawmakers were using overbroad theories of legislative privilege and not could not “hide conversations with executive branch officials, lobbyists, and other interested outsiders.
Guaderrama ordered Texas lawmakers to turn over a wide range of redistricting documents, including “talking points” defending the maps.
The order was a victory for the DOJ and civil rights groups. However, state officials still have the advantage of time. In past cases, final decisions have been made years after contested elections.
‘You’re literally dragging out litigation so long that people are dying,’ lawyer says Told The TexasTribune in 2017.