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Justice Department Sues Texas Over New Redistricting Maps

WASHINGTON (CBSDFW.COM/AP) — The Department of Justice is suing Texas over new redistricting maps, saying the plans violate the rights of voters in the state's booming Latino and Black populations.

The lawsuit, filed in the Western District of Texas, claims the state has "again diluted the voting strength of minority Texans and continued its refusal to comply with the Voting Rights Act, absent intervention by the Attorney General or the federal courts."

The lawsuit notes that Texas' population grew by 4 million people over the past decade, 95% of whom were Black, Latino and Asian people, but the new maps that state Republicans drew doesn't give any of these communities new opportunities to choose their own representatives.

Instead, the maps pack Black and Latino communities into bizarre-shaped districts — an area in North Texas is referred to as a "seahorse" shape — while preserving safe seats for white Republicans. District 6 used to encompass part of southern Tarrant County, Ellis and Navarro counties. It now snakes around to include part of Irving in Dallas County, Cherokee County in East Texas, and the rural counties of Hill, Freestone and Anderson.

"This is not the first time that Texas has acted to minimize the voting rights of its minority citizens," Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta said during a press conference announcing the lawsuit. "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 lawsuit cites several congressional districts where Republicans drew tortured lines to lower the share of Black and Latino voters in their party's congressional districts.

Texas has had to defend their maps in court after every redistricting process since the Voting Rights Act took effect in 1965, but this will be the first since a U.S. Supreme Court ruling said Texas and other states with a history of racial discrimination no longer need to have the Justice Department scrutinize the maps before they are approved.

(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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