Sen. Ted Cruz on Tuesday blasted the U.S. Department of Justice for suing Texas over its new redistricting maps, saying the department “is a partisan attack dog targeting the political opponents of the White House.”
The Justice Department filed a lawsuit Monday against Texas’ new maps for the state House of Representatives and congressional districts, claiming the plans violate the federal Voting Rights Act by diminishing the voting strength of people of color. Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, approved the new maps in October.
The Justice Department’s lawsuit singles out how lawmakers drew district lines in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
Lawmakers drew the maps in a way that moved some Hispanic voters previously in the 33rd Congressional District — represented by Democrat Rep. Marc Veasey — into a district more populated by white voters. The Legislature has historically gerrymandered the 33rd district, with The Washington Post ranking it the sixth most gerrymandered district in the country in 2014.
“[The maps] surgically excised minority communities from the core of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex (DFW) by attaching them to heavily Anglo rural counties, some more than a hundred miles away, placing them in a congressional district where they would lack equal electoral opportunity,” the Justice Department said in its lawsuit.
Texas lawmakers have the power to draw new redistricting lines once every decade based on current census data. Census numbers released in August showed that people of color made up 95% of Texas’ population growth over the past decade.
“Our investigation determined that Texas’ redistricting plans will dilute the increased minority voting strength that should have developed from these significant demographic shifts,” U.S. Associate General Vanita Gupta said at a press conference Monday.
The Princeton Gerrymandering Project graded the partisan fairness of Texas’ congressional and state House maps as an F and C.
Cruz did not say whether he believes the Legislature drew the maps in a way to intentionally leave out voters of color. He instead decried Democrats for gerrymandering in states where they control the state Legislature and emphasized his belief that the people play a role in the redistricting process.
Cruz had no role in devising the maps.
“When the framers wrote the Constitution, they understood that if you give a task to elected politicians, that politics will play a significant role in how they carry out that task,” Cruz told the Star-Telegram. “By giving those decisions to elected legislatures, you ultimately are ensuring that the people retain control over those decisions.”
Texas gained two new congressional seats this year because of its population growth, and lawmakers drew the maps to effectively give white voters control of those districts. The maps also decrease the number of districts with a majority of eligible Black and Hispanic voters.
The lawsuit says the new state House maps harmed Latino communities “through manipulation or outright elimination of districts where Latino communities previously had elected their preferred candidates.”
Under the House maps, there are three fewer districts where Hispanics make up a majority of eligible voters.
A tweet from the Texas attorney general’s account Monday said the lawsuit is “the Biden Administration’s latest ploy to control Texas voters.”
“I am confident that our legislature’s redistricting decisions will be proven lawful, and this preposterous attempt to sway democracy will fail,” the tweet read.