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Lone Star Project Report

Department of Justice Objects to Texas Congressional Plan

DOJ will join the argument for a new Texas map

The U.S. Department of Justice filed a federal court brief earlier today objecting to the racially gerrymandered Republican drawn Texas congressional map. The DOJ objection is an important step forward in winning the federal court fight in Washington, D.C. and forcing a redrawn map that fairly reflects Texas’ growth over the last decade.

The Department of Justice will now argue in alliance with intervener groups before a three-judge panel in the DC Federal District Court that the Texas map should be overturned and a new plan drawn. The Lone Star Project and the Texas Justice Fund support the intervener group led by State Representative Marc Veasey (HD95 – Fort Worth) which was the first to be approved by the federal court. Other intervener groups supported by Hispanic and African American advocacy organizations are party to the suit as well.

The DOJ objection positions the department in alliance with the intervener groups and in opposition to the Texas Republican State officials when arguing to the federal courts. The DC Federal Court is expected to set a time-table for legal discovery and a trial on the merits within the next several days.

What Happens Next?

The three-judge panel in Washington, D.C. will set a trial schedule to hear formal arguments from all parties to the suit and make a final determination whether or not the Texas plan violates Section 5 of the US Voting Rights Act. The Department of Justice will argue against the State of Texas before the three-judge federal panel in Washington, DC. After the DC Court rules, the focus will shift back to Texas, where the San Antonio Court will make its decision on possible Section 2 violation and then order redrawn maps if required. Last week, a Federal District Court in San Antonio completed a trial hearing arguments that the Texas Congressional and State House plans violate Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act requiring state plans to reflect the voting strength of citizens. The three-judge panel in Texas will hold off on issuing an opinion on that trial until the DC Court rules whether the Texas plans violate Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act preventing plans from reducing the existing opportunities of minority voters.

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