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Attorney General Merrick Garland. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The Department of Justice on Monday filed a lawsuit against Texas, alleging Republican state lawmakers discriminated against Black and Latino voters and have "again diluted the voting strength of minority Texans" when they approved new redistricting maps.

Why it matters: A DOJ assessment of the new districts found that they violate Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, Attorney General Merrick Garland said at a press conference.

Be smart: Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act holds that state laws must provide voters "with an equal opportunity to participate in the democratic process and elect representatives of their choosing," Garland said.

  • Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta added during the news conference that the new districts "were drawn with discriminatory intent."

What they're saying: "Texas' 2021 redistricting plans were enacted through a rush 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," Gupta told reporters Monday.

"Texas' population grew by 4 million people from 2010 to 2020 and 95% of that growth came from minority populations. Despite this significant increase in the number and proportion of eligible Latino and Black voters in Texas, the newly enacted redistricting plans will not allow minority voters an equal opportunity to elect representatives of their choice.
Instead, our investigation determined that Texas' redistricting plans will dilute the increased minority voting strength that should have developed from these significant demographic shifts."
— Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton's office tweeted: "The Department of Justice's absurd lawsuit against our state 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."

Worth noting: Garland noted that "this redistricting cycle would be the first to proceed since 1960 without the protection of pre-clearance."

Go deeper: Read the full lawsuit

Go deeper

Focus group: Biden weak on COVID response, strong on democracy

Photo illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photo: Pool/Getty Images 

As President Biden approaches the one-year mark of his presidency, some swing voters say his handling of the pandemic has weakened him in their eyes.

  • But they see him projecting strength when he talks about protecting American democracy.

Driving the news: These were key takeaways from the latest Engagious/Schlesinger swing-voter focus groups for Axios, conducted Tuesday, just days after the president's Jan. 6 anniversary speech.

Democrats take voting rights fight to state-level races

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro and New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham. Photos: Natalie Kolb/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images (left); Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call

Democratic gubernatorial candidates are unveiling their own voting rights plans ahead of this fall's midterms.

Why it matters: Congressional Democrats have, so far, failed to deliver federal legislation. Because Republicans have succeeded in introducing restrictions at the state and local levels, the ability to vote in 2022 will largely depend on where a person lives. That makes state executive races a high priority for both parties.

House passes voting rights bill

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

The House of Representatives on Thursday passed voting rights legislation, approving a measure that combines the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Amendment Act.

Driving the news: The package will be sent to the Senate, where it faces an uphill battle because of Republican opposition. Democrats are considering changing the Senate's filibuster rules to pass the bill.