The Justice Department Monday said it is suing Texas over a new congressional and state Senate redistricting map adopted by the state legislature earlier this year.
The new maps allegedly violate the Voting Rights Act because they dilute minority votes.
The maps reduce the districts with a significant black or Hispanic population by around seven percent.
Republicans argued the lawsuit is politically motivated because it was filed weeks before the 2020 census.
“Texas was fully prepared to follow its revised Congressional and State Senate redistricting plans with the approval of federal officials when it adopted those plans in January 2018,” Texas said in a statement. “We will continue to use the new congressional and state Senate redistricting plans to defend against this suit in court.”
If a judge upholds the lawsuit, the new maps would be illegal and Texas’ redistricting maps would have to be redrawn. If the state is forced to draw new maps, Texas could lose clout in Congress and the state Senate and House of Representatives could see another change in composition.
“These maps are discriminatory because they dilute the power of African-American and Hispanic voters to elect their preferred candidates in key congressional and state Senate districts,” said Thomas Perez, head of the Justice Department’s civil rights division.
If the lawsuit does not go to court, the new maps would remain in place during the 2020 redistricting.
More than a dozen lawsuits were filed around the country that said new congressional and state legislative maps adopted by the state of Michigan last year were less racially discriminatory than the previously approved map adopted in 2012, which was officially determined to be discriminatory after a five-year court battle. That case continues in federal court.
In addition to Texas, other GOP-led states have already lost court battles over the congressional and state legislative maps drawn after the 2010 census that effectively redrew the congressional maps after the 2010 census.
In May, the Alabama Supreme Court ordered a new map be drawn for Alabama’s congressional delegation. More lawsuits and court battles are expected to play out over congressional redistricting maps drawn in North Carolina.
A Supreme Court ruling this summer found that Republicans in Wisconsin enacted a state law requiring government contractors to use a new form of ID without violating the Constitution. The Supreme Court voided an existing redistricting map, as well as a state voter ID law, after finding those measures discriminated against Democratic voters.
This story was updated at 3:08pm ET.