GALVESTON, TEXAS – This Monday, August 7, civil rights groups will head to trial to make the case that the Galveston County Commissioners Court diluted the votes of and discriminated against its Black and Latino residents in violation of the Voting Rights Act and U.S. Constitution with its 2021 redistricting maps.
The trial will start on Monday, August 7 at 9:00 am CT at the Galveston County Federal Courthouse, 601 25th St, Galveston, TX 77550.
The lawsuit was filed in 2022 by Texas Civil Rights Project (TCRP), Southern Coalition for Social Justice (SCSJ), Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP, and Spencer & Associates, PLLC 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”), as well as three individual civil rights leaders Edna Courville, Joe A. Compian, and Leon Phillips.
The lawsuit argues that the new maps intentionally discriminate against a growing minority population and split up the only majority-minority district — where Stephen Holmes has served on the Galveston County Commissioners Court for 22 years as the sole Black commissioner in a County whose population is 45% people of color. The lawsuit has been 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.
“Our case is clear: the Galveston County Commissioners Court’s 2021 redistricting broke the law by discriminating against and diluting the votes of Galveston County’s Black and Latino residents,” said Sarah Xiyi Chen (she/her), Attorney for the Voting Rights Program at the Texas Civil Rights Project. “Our clients deserve fair representation in their county government. As we fight against county officials who feel emboldened to silence our clients’ voices, this case highlights the need for stronger federal protections. Black and Brown communities across the country whose votes have been diluted should not have to wait on a years-long court case in order to uphold their right to fair representation.”
“We are proud to represent the NAACP, LULAC, Ms. Courville, Mr. Phillips and Mr. Compian in their pursuit of fair representation and equal protection under the law for all residents of Galveston County,” said Hilary Harris Klein, Senior Voting Rights Counsel at Southern Coalition for Social Justice.
“This is a critically significant voting rights lawsuit. Willkie is proud to stand with our co-counsel Texas Civil Rights Project (TCRP), Southern Coalition for Social Justice (SCSJ), and Spencer & Associates, PLLC in this important fight for justice,” said Richard Mancino, Senior Counsel at Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP.
“This is an important case which will determine whether our Constitutions promises are still good in Galveston County. The people of Galveston have been fighting for their rights at least as far back as 1865 and Spencer & Associates, PLLC is happy to join the fight,” said Nickolas A. Spencer, Attorney and Counselor at Law, Spencer & Associates, PLLC.
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.
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 southerncoalition.org and follow our work on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP provides leading-edge legal solutions on complex, business critical issues spanning markets and industries. Our approximately 1,200 attorneys across 13 offices worldwide deliver innovative, pragmatic and sophisticated legal services across approximately 40 practice areas. Learn more at www.willkie.com.