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Fair Maps Texas Action Committee v. Abbott

A coalition of advocacy groups and several Black, Asian, and Latino Texas voters, represented by the Brennan Center and co-counsel, have filed a federal lawsuit claiming that Texas’s new congressional and legislative maps discriminate against voters of color and were drawn with race as the predominant factor, in violation of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments and Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.

Last Updated: August 18, 2022
Published: June 30, 2022

On November 16, 2021, individual voters and Texas-based advocacy groups filed a federal lawsuit in the Western District of Texas challenging Texas’s congressional, state house, and state senate maps for violating the U.S. Constitution and Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. Plaintiffs include Fair Maps Texas Action Committee (a coalition consisting of League of Women Voters of Texas, Clean Elections Texas, Texans Against Gerrymandering, Our Vote Texas, ACLU of Texas, National Council of Jewish Women-Greater Dallas Section, and Common Cause Texas), OCA-Greater Houston, the North Texas Chapter of the Asian Pacific Islander Americans Public Affairs Association, Emgage, and a group of Black, Latino, and Asian voters. Plaintiffs are represented by the Brennan Center, the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, and the ACLU of Texas.

In the suit, plaintiffs allege that Texas’s new congressional and legislative maps deny voters of color an equal opportunity to elect their preferred candidates, and that Texas legislators used race as a predominant factor and discriminated against voters of color.
 
The lawsuit focuses on dynamic, diversifying communities across the state, particularly those in Fort Bend County (outside of Houston), in Bell County (near Fort Hood), and in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. In these areas, fast-growing Latino, Black, and Asian voters were “cracked” across multiple districts or, conversely, unnecessarily “packed” into a small number of overwhelmingly minority districts. Both discriminatory tactics produce the same result: districts that fail to give fair representation to communities of color that accounted for 95 percent of Texas’ population growth last decade.

The behavior being challenged in the suit is a continuation of Texas’ long and uninterrupted legacy of discriminatory redistricting, with federal courts invalidating districts in Texas for discriminating against nonwhite voters every redistricting cycle for the last five decades. Though Republican legislators claimed they drew their maps on a “race-blind” basis, the subsequent maps include many examples of discriminatory tactics. In Fort Bend County, for example, the new congressional map cracks the center of a growing Asian population between three districts, diluting the community’s voting power. In another instance, the house map prevents the city of Killeen’s Latino and Black voters from electing their preferred candidates by dividing the city between two districts. Overall, the maps simply do not reflect the fact that no ethnic or racial group makes up a majority of the population. Even though 95 percent of Texas’s population growth in the last decade came from people of color, two-thirds of the enacted senate districts, and both new congressional districts have majority-white populations among eligible voters. 

The case has been consolidated with eight others and is currently set for trial starting in late September 2022: LULAC v. AbbottEsco­bar v. AbbottFisc­her v. Abbott, United States v. TexasTexas State Confer­ence of the NAACP v. Abbott, Brooks v. Abbott, MALC v. Texas, and Abuabara v. Scott. 

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