Case Summary: On November 16, 2021, the Southern Coalition for Social Justice (SCSJ), with co-counsel from the ACLU of Texas and the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF), filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas (Austin Division) against Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, on behalf of the Fair Maps Texas Action Committee, OCA-Greater Houston, the North Texas Chapter of the Asian Pacific Islander Americans Public Affairs Association, Emgage Texas and 13 individual plaintiffs (from each coalition in each region), challenging the state’s new legislative and congressional districts. The Fair Maps Texas Action Committee includes Clean Elections Texas, Common Cause Texas, Texans Against Gerrymandering, the League of Women Voters of Texas, Our Vote Texas, the ACLU of Texas, and the National Council of Jewish Women – Greater Dallas Section. The complaint argues that the state’s new districts intentionally dilute the voting power of Texans of color, specifically Black, Latinx and Asian American, and Pacific Islander voters, in violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) and the 14th and 15th Amendments. The lawsuit asks the court to block the use of the current maps and order the creation of new maps that do not dilute minority voting strength.
The case was consolidated with nine others challenging Texas’ redistricting results; the lead case where future filings can be found is League of United Latin American Citizens v. Abbott.
In early 2022, a motion for a preliminary injunction filed by another plaintiff group to strike down Senate District 10 in Tarrant County, Texas was denied.
Status: The case has been consolidated with eight other redistricting lawsuits filed in the state of Texas, and transferred to the United States District Court in the Western District of Texas (El Paso Division). A trial in our consolidated redistricting case is set for September 2022.
Why it’s important: Since the passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965, Texas has not gone a single decade without a federal court finding that the state had violated federal protections for voters of color. In 2021, Texas lawmakers’ voting plans for State House districts (H2316), State Senate districts (S2168), and Congressional districts (C2193), repeat the Legislature’s past mistakes. The complaint alleges that each plan discriminates against voters of color by failing to create coalition districts mandated by Section 2 of the VRA, intentionally dividing voters of color into several districts, and otherwise diluting the voting power of people of color. As the complaint documents, in areas like Fort Bend County, a diverse region near Houston, Texas, AAPI communities are cracked “with almost surgical precision,” depriving them of an equal opportunity to elect their candidates of choice.