A legal expert walked through the Justice Department's new lawsuit challenging Texas Republicans' plans to redraw congressional and state legislative districts.
The suit accuses the GOP majority of acting with discriminatory intent and violating Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, and civil rights attorney Charles Coleman Jr. explained the merits of the case to MSNBC's "Morning Joe."
"It's important to let viewers know what we're talking about," Coleman said. "Section 6, which was the original section that had what was called pre-clearance was gutted in the infamous case of Shelby County v. Holder by the Supreme Court."
That section had required jurisdictions with a history of discrimination to pass federal scrutiny before passing new voting laws, but without that legal authority attorney general Merrick Garland is focusing instead on Section 2, which forbids redistricting in a way that's intended to dilute the votes of minority groups.
"You cannot redistrict any way that results in the dilution or watering down of a significant number of voters based off of their race or membership in an ethnic group," Coleman explained. "It remains to be seen, [but] I think that the DOJ does have one thing working for them that is going to be very helpful. Section 2 no longer requires intent, so you don't have to establish there was some sort of discriminatory animus or racially biased motive in terms of how this was, but you do have to establish the results. The DOJ, at least in their complaints and their filing pleadings, has put forth a compelling argument."
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The court's right-wing majority has shown great deference to state legislatures, especially in voting rights cases, which Coleman admits could pose an obstacle to the Garland's suit.
"This is not a new thing," Coleman said. "States go through redistricting all the time, and a lot of times it's based on the party that's in the majority. I think that one of the things that DOJ has in front of them is that's going to be an uphill battle is establishing to the point of being convincing that 6-3 majority is that, basically listen, this is about a result that's created an inequitable situation along the lines of race and discrimination. I don't necessarily know, even with the census figures, even with the way the population, the demographics, have changed, in the state of Texas that is going to be compelling enough in the court's history in terms of deference to the states."
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