Legal expert blames the Supreme Court as redistricting battle erupts between Texas and the DOJ
Greg Abbott YouTube/screen grab

Republicans in the Texas legislature were blasted by leading legal analyst for discriminatory redistricting maps.

Election law expert and University of Texas Law Prof. Steve Vladeck explained the new dynamics one day after the U.S. Department of Justice field a federal lawsuit for violating Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.

"The Justice Department sued Texas on Monday, challenging its newly drawn electoral maps at both the state and congressional levels. At its core, the lawsuit claims that Texas’ new maps discriminate against the state’s 'growing minority electorate.' And clearly, they do. The problem with the lawsuit is not its factual premise; it is the significant steps the Supreme Court has taken in the last eight years to make it easier for conservative states to get away with exactly such anti-democratic (and anti-Democratic) manipulation," he wrote. "Simply put, the latest front in the battle between the Biden administration and Texas reinforces just how fragile our democracy is becoming — and how directly the Supreme Court is responsible."

The 2020 Census found Texas had gained 4 million residents.

READ MORE: Texas newspaper slams GOP for locking Democrats out of power with new redistricting scheme

"Most of that growth came from minority groups, which now constitute a majority of the state’s population. Indeed, the statewide population of “Anglos” (non-Latino white Texans) was responsible for only 5 percent of that growth," Vladeck replied. "As Ari Berman has documented, Latinos, in contrast, make up 39 percent of the population but control only 20 percent of the districts. And only 2 percent of the districts have Black majorities, even though Black Texans are one-eighth of the state’s population. More fundamentally, the maps completely ignore the source of Texas’ explosive population growth, reducing the voting power of the very minority groups who are responsible for virtually all of the state’s gains in size."

Vladeck noted that the Texas maps would've been illegal until the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act in the 2013 Shelby County v. Holder ruling.

"Shelby County effectively nullified the preclearance regime, though it left a window open for Congress to update the coverage formula. But it did not affect Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act — the statute’s central substantive prohibition on voting rules that discriminate based upon race. Shelby County thus required litigants to bring individual challenges to individual state practices, but it did nothing to make those challenges harder to win," he explained. "In July, however, the Supreme Court’s decision in Brnovich v. Democratic National Committee made it harder to enforce Section 2, as well."

Vladeck says it is imperative for Congress to act.

READ MORE: Legal expert explains how DOJ could win challenge of 'racially biased' Texas voting law in right-wing Supreme Court

"How far that reasoning goes remains to be seen. In that respect, the Biden administration’s new suit against Texas may be a bellwether. If the Voting Rights Act can no longer prevent a state that gained seats in Congress almost entirely because of minority population growth from redistricting to reduce the voting power of those minority groups, it will be a powerful testament to how much the Supreme Court has denuded that landmark civil rights statute," he explained. "That the case has to be filed at all shows how imperative it is for Congress to fix it, even if eliminating the filibuster is the only way to accomplish such reform. So long as these maps remain in effect, they will provide only further evidence of the fragility of our democracy — and how increasingly unrepresentative our 'representatives' are."

Watch AG Merrick Garland announce the lawsuit:

Justice Department Files Lawsuit Against the State of Texas to Challenge Statewide Redistricting..