Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2012

Abstract

In notable ways, the ongoing dispute over redistricting in Texas offers a mirror image to one of the major redistricting battles of the last decade, only with Democratic and Republican roles reversed. In both Texas v. United States and Georgia v. Ashcroft, a state attorney general (AG) decided he would not ask the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) to approve new redistricting plans enacted in his state. In both cases, the state AGs were well aware that the Voting Rights Act (VRA) required them to obtain federal approval, known as preclearance, before changing any aspect of their state's election laws and procedures, and both knew that the new redistricting plans were indisputably the type of changes that needed federal approval. Both, moreover, believed (and would later argue) that the plans satisfied the statutory standard for approval, namely, that they had neither the purpose nor the effect of denying or abridging the right to vote based on race or language minority status. Still, both Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott and Georgia Attorney General Thurbert E. Baker wanted to avoid the Department of Justice at all costs.[...] [B]oth Texas and Georgia show that Democrats enforce voting rights differently from Republicans. Often this means that Democrats enforce voting rights more expansively and aggressively than do Republicans, but as Georgia shows, not always. More consistently, Democrats enforce voting rights in ways that tend to advance Democratic interests while Republican-led enforcement tends to produce benefits for Republicans. This Article explores whether these differences should be cause for concern.


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