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Justice Department: Texas Congressional Map Discriminates Against Hispanics

The Justice Department today accused Texas officials of enacting a new Congressional map that purposefully dilutes minority voting power.

“Based on our preliminary investigation, it appears that the proposed plan may have a prohibited purpose in that it was adopted, at least in part, for the purpose of diminishing the ability of citizens of the United States, on account of race, color, or membership in a language minority group, to elect their preferred candidates of choice to Congress,” the Justice Department wrote in its brief.

The department’s filing is the latest salvo in its case against Texas in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

On Monday, President Barack Obama’s Justice Department argued that the new Texas map, signed into law by GOP presidential contender Gov. Rick Perry, violated the Voting Rights Act.
The department detailed its legal reasoning in Friday’s brief, specifying problems with new 23rd and 27th House districts.

“Hispanic citizens will not be able to elect candidates of their choice in proposed Congressional District 23 because of the persistence of racially polarized voting,” the Justice Department wrote.
Texas is required under the Voting Rights Act to win “pre-clearance” of redistricting maps from the Justice Department, or to file suit in federal court to bypass the DOJ. That’s the route Texas took.

If the case lingers, as redistricting matters often do, a federal court in Texas might have to redraw new lines for candidates to use in 2012.

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