Elections Government Politics

Democrats Face Seat Loss as Biden DOJ Gambles!

President Joe Biden’s Department of Justice (DOJ) recently sued a small Texas county, Galveston County, alleging that its redistricting map violated the Voting Rights Act (VRA). The lawsuit claims the county’s new district map eradicates a Democrat-held seat, thereby infringing on minority voting rights. However, this move by the DOJ could backfire, potentially leading to significant losses for Democrats in congressional seats if Galveston County wins its legal challenge.

Galveston County’s Precinct 3, held by Democrat Stephen Holmes, has been a Democrat stronghold for years, largely due to its status as a “coalition district.” Such districts combine multiple minority groups to form a majority, thus increasing the chances of electing a Democrat. Paul Ready, general counsel for Galveston County, explains that the county’s brief to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals argues that coalition districts represent political, not racial, alliances. The county contends that the VRA should only apply to districts where a single racial minority group forms the majority, not a combination of multiple minority groups.

The DOJ’s insistence on preserving coalition districts is a strategy Democrats have used to consolidate political power by creating majority-minority districts from diverse minority groups. Galveston County’s redistricting after the 2020 census aims to reflect its growing population, particularly in the northern part of the county, without the DOJ’s preclearance, thanks to the 2013 Supreme Court decision in Shelby County v. Holder. This decision found the VRA’s preclearance criteria outdated and unconstitutional. The county argues that there is no single racial minority group large enough to justify a VRA-protected district, a point even acknowledged by the District Court for the Southern District of Texas.

If the 5th Circuit Court rules in favor of Galveston County, the implications could be far-reaching. At least a dozen congressional seats currently held by Democrats could be redrawn in a way that weakens Democratic power. Galveston County maintains that the VRA should not mandate the preservation of coalition districts, as this would require race-based redistricting without a logical endpoint. This case could set a precedent, making coalition districts illegal in Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi, and potentially prompting the Supreme Court to establish a nationwide standard.

The DOJ’s previous interventions in Galveston County’s redistricting efforts, such as in 2011, have been contentious. The DOJ had objected to a map proposal that would have altered the racial composition of Precinct 3. However, the current legal battle could reshape the future of coalition districts. A three-judge panel from the 5th Circuit initially expressed skepticism about the legal foundation of coalition districts, leading to the full panel’s consideration of the case.

Should the Supreme Court ultimately hear this case and rule in favor of Galveston County, the impact could extend beyond Texas. Coalition districts in states like Florida, Georgia, Indiana, North Carolina, Ohio, and South Carolina could also be dismantled, potentially flipping several Democrat-held seats. The outcome of this case will be critical in determining whether the DOJ’s attempt to enforce coalition districts will succeed or lead to a broader realignment of congressional power.

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