Texas Republicans advanced new congressional maps late Monday over the objections of Democrats who argued that the process was rushed and that the new districts unfairly grouped people of color.
The new map shores up Republican incumbents, several of whom won in 2020 by slim margins, but some opponents of the map say that it dilutes the representation of minority communities.
“What we are doing in passing this congressional map is a disservice to the people of Texas,” Democratic state Rep. Rafael Anchia said before the vote, according to The Texas Tribune. “I’d love to be able to say it is a stain on the legacy of voting rights, but that seems to be the playbook decade after decade.”
Though Texas’ Latino population has recently grown at nearly 11 times the rate of the white population, the state’s two new seats to represent populations that consist of over 60% white residents, the Tribune noted. The new map also cuts the number of Hispanic-majority districts from eight to seven and the number of black-majority districts from one to zero.
Republicans, however, defended the new maps. Republican state Sen. Joan Huffman, who led the state Senate’s redistricting process, reportedly said that there was “no strong basis in evidence” for creating new majority-minority districts. Huffman added that districts were “drawn blind to race,” according to the Associated Press.
This is the first redistricting process since the 1960s after which states with a history of racial discrimination can draw maps without scrutiny by the U.S. Department of Justice because of a 2013 Supreme Court ruling invalidating that provision of the Voting Rights Act. Despite this freedom, the new map may be challenged in court once it is enacted.
“As soon as this map is enacted, I expect Texas will be sued,” Democratic lawyer Marc Elias said Monday.
Republican Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas, who called the 30-day special legislative session to redraw the state’s maps, is expected to sign them into law.
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