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  • Michalina Kubicka

Why is the Government Suing the Government? And other pressing questions.

Hey, y’all! Happy Friday.

Today, we’re here to talk about something kinda confusing that’s been all over our Twitter feeds: the government is suing the government.

That is, the Department of Justice (federal government) is suing the government of the State of Texas. Weird, right?

(Olivier Douliery | Getty Images)

What’s going on?

The Department of Justice (we’re gonna go ahead and refer to it as the DOJ) steps in when it comes to issues of federal law - things like terrorism, drug trafficking, and, most notably in this case, civil rights.

The DOJ is suing the state of Texas on the basis that Texas’s newly drawn electoral map is discriminatory - that it violates the Voting Rights Act of 1965 by disenfranchising Black and Brown voters. Like every other state, Texas got to redraw its *entire* electoral map after the 2020 census, so that electoral districts could better represent their state’s population. Unfortunately, Texas (ahem, “allegedly”) used the opportunity to redraw its map to dilute the voting power of the state’s Black and Brown voters.

Here’s what we know:

  • Texas’ new map reduced the number of majority-Black districts from one (1) to zero (0!).

  • Texas’ population grew by nearly 4 million since the last census. Latinos made up half of that growth (people of color made up a whopping 95% of the total growth) -- but statewide, the number of majority-Latino districts decreased.

  • Under the new maps, seats considered “safe” for one party (seats that are virtually noncompetitive) would nearly double -- from 11 to 21.

Critics of the new maps say the state of Texas has used a gerrymandering technique called “cracking”, in which majority-minority communities are “cracked”, or split up into a number of districts where they never represent a majority (you can read a lot more about different gerrymandering tactics here). This obviously dilutes the voting power of minority communities and, according to the DOJ, constitutes a violation of the Voting Rights Act, which guarantees all Americans an equal opportunity to participate in the voting process.

We’ll let Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta bring us home:

“The right to vote is foundational to our democracy. [But] Texas' 2021 redistricting plans were enacted through a rushed process with minimal opportunity for public comment, without any expert testimony and with an overall disregard for the massive minority population growth in Texas over the last decade.”

So, yes, we live in a country where sometimes, the government has to sue the government. But, win a way, we see this as proof that the system is working: there are checks in place to keep bad actors from stifling the voices of under-represented Americans, and we’re watching those checks work in real-time.

So for now, we’re going to keep rooting for the voting rights team over at DOJ - the people behind those checks are working tirelessly to keep them in place.

Thanks for reading, y’all! Talk soon.

“American history is longer, larger, more various, more beautiful, and more terrible than anything anyone has ever said about it.” – James Baldwin

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