Galveston Community Stands Together for Review of Redistricting Case

Voting Rights
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NEW ORLEANS, La. (May 14, 2024) – Today, the en banc hearing in the redistricting case Petteway v. Galveston County concluded. The hearing took place at the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans. The review was granted by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, following an initial decision affirming that the map violated the Voting Rights Act. The en banc review hearing means the entire court of appeals will review the case to determine if the initial appellate three-judge panel ruled correctly. The case now awaits decision from the en banc review. 

This decision endangers the ability of Galveston County’s Black and Latino residents to elect the candidate of their choice to the County Commissioners Court in 2024. Despite the plaintiffs having won in the trial court on October 13, 2023, and in the initial hearing on appeal on Nov. 10, 2023, where the 5th Circuit issued an administrative stay order preventing the trial court from holding remedial proceedings to put a new, legally compliant map in place.  

“Black and Latino residents of the historic Precinct 3 in Galveston are the foundation of this lawsuit – we saw them band together in 2021 to try to stop elected officials from implementing a map that destroyed their voting power. Today, the court called into question if they, as a community, can seek the relief they need,” said Sarah Xiyi Chen (she/her), Attorney for the Voting Rights Program at the Texas Civil Rights Project. “We hope the court’s decision reflects what we’ve always known to be true: the Voting Rights Act unequivocally protects the ability of communities with common interests and common harms to fight vote dilution. We remain hopeful that the Fifth Circuit will uphold its precedent and affirm our clients’ district court win.”

“Across the South, Black and Brown communities stand together against the constant onslaught of racism and discrimination— just as they do in Galveston. SCSJ is proud to stand with them in their fight against textbook racial gerrymandering,” said Hilary Harris Klein, Senior Counsel for Voting Rights with Southern Coalition for Social Justice. “We are confident in the facts of our case and humbled by the courage and strength of the local NAACP and LULAC branches and civil rights leaders.”

To schedule an interview with the attorneys working on this case, please contact the organizations’ respective media contacts. 

The lawsuit was filed by Texas Civil Rights Project (TCRP), Southern Coalition for Social Justice (SCSJ), Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP, and Spencer & Associates, PLLC in 2022 on behalf of three Galveston-area branches of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (“NAACP”) and the local council for the League of United Latin American Citizens (“LULAC”), and three individual civil rights leaders, Edna Courville, Joe Compian, and Leon Phillips. The lawsuit was consolidated with similar suits by the U.S. Department of Justice and by other civil rights groups on behalf of local leaders Terry Petteway, Penny Pope, and Derreck Rose. Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP joined as counsel for the appeal process. 

The district court found that the 2021 map “summarily carved up and wiped off the map” Galveston County’s Historic Precinct 3, the sole majority-minority commissioners precinct in the County electing the sole minority commissioner for decades. The district court also credited testimony for Plaintiffs’ experts that this map is a “textbook” racial gerrymander that would provide zero chance for Black and Latino voters to elect a candidate of their choice in a county.



Texas Civil Rights Project, Savannah Tarbet, 

Southern Coalition for Social Justice, Andy Li,, (828)-406-5231

About Texas Civil Rights Project

The Texas Civil Rights Project is boldly serving the movement for equality and justice in and out of the courts. We use our tools of litigation and legal advocacy to protect and advance the civil rights of everyone in Texas, and we partner with communities across the state to serve the rising movement for social justice. We undertake our work with a vision of a Texas in which all communities can thrive with dignity, justice and without fear.

About Southern Coalition for Social Justice

Southern Coalition for Social Justice, founded in 2007, partners with communities of color and economically disadvantaged communities in the South to defend and advance their political, social, and economic rights through the combination of legal advocacy, research, organizing, and communications. Learn more at and follow our work on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.