This is not good for the Republican party.
A judge appointed during the Trump administration has made a significant ruling against the Republican Party in Texas. U.S. District Judge Jeffrey Brown, who was selected for the position in 2019 by former President Donald Trump, has determined that Galveston County’s actions violated the federal Voting Rights Act. The county was found guilty of dividing Black and Latino communities in a way that artificially increased the percentage of white voters in each precinct.
According to Newsweek, Judge Brown, in his decision on Friday, criticized the map drawn by the GOP, stating that it was a clear violation of federal law. He asserted that this map unfairly denied Black and Latino voters the equal opportunity to participate in the political process and to elect representatives of their choice to the commissioners’ court.
The situation in Texas is one of several legal battles that have emerged across the country regarding the redrawing of voting maps following the 2020 Census. Recently, the Supreme Court heard arguments about South Carolina’s congressional map.
Judge Brown emphasized the uniqueness of this case, describing it as not a typical redistricting issue. He pointed out the drastic changes made by the commissioners’ court, which transformed Precinct 3 from the precinct with the highest percentage of Black and Latino residents to the one with the lowest percentage.
As a result of this ruling, Galveston County has been ordered to revise its map by October 20, with plaintiffs given until October 27 to express their objections. If the county fails to submit a new plan, Judge Brown has stated that he will compel them to implement the map created by Anthony Fairfax, a redistricting expert retained by the Justice Department. The new map must be adopted before November 11, in time for the upcoming 2024 presidential election.
While Galveston County is predominantly white and Republican, it also has a significant population of Black and Latino voters who generally lean Democratic. Judge Brown pointed out that this dynamic is reflected in the county’s leadership, as the candidate supported by white voters is more likely to win elections under the current redistricting map.
Judge Brown noted, “The undisputed evidence shows that Anglo voters in Galveston County vote cohesively and for candidates opposing those supported by a majority of Black and Latino voters.” This consistently results in Anglo voters defeating the minority-preferred candidate in each of the precincts on the commissioners’ court.
The County Commissioners Court is composed of an elected judge and four commissioners, with Republicans currently holding a 4-1 majority. Precinct 3’s Commissioner Stephen Holmes is the only Democrat on the court.
The newly redrawn maps have dismantled and divided Precinct 3, the county’s only precinct with a majority of Black and Latino residents, endangering Holmes’ chances of re-election. Holmes has served the precinct for 24 years over six terms.
During the bench trial, an expert witness for the NAACP, William Cooper, with four decades of experience in crafting voting maps, described the Galveston County case as “a textbook example of racial gerrymandering.” He emphasized the severity of the situation, stating that he had never witnessed anything as egregious unless demographic changes left no other options for eliminating a minority-majority district.