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Texas Matters: Gerrymandering and backsliding democracy

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U.S. Attorney Merrick Garland
U.S. Attorney Merrick Garland

When Texas lawmakers approved new district maps in a recent special session, it was the first time since the 1980s that those maps did not need to go through a federal approval process to ensure they were fair under the Voting Rights Act.

The result – maps that the U.S. Department of Justice claims violate the Voting Rights Act – and a lawsuit.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton responded with a tweet calling the redistricting suit “absurd” and a “ploy” by the Biden administration. He wrote, “I am confident that our legislature’s redistricting decisions will be proven lawful, and this preposterous attempt to sway democracy will fail.”

To help break down the DOJ lawsuit and it’s implications we are joined by Michael Li, a national expert on redistricting who is senior counsel at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University.

Backsliding Democracy

The questionable way that Texas conducted it’s redistricting process and the result that short changed communities of color is one more sign that Democracy in Texas and in the United States is weakening.

The United States is now being labeled a "backsliding democracy" in a new report from the European think tank International IDEA. But what does that mean? How bad is it? How can we respond?

We spoke with two officials from the Democracy Assessment Unit at the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA) Seema Shah and Alexander Hudson.

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David Martin Davies can be reached at dmdavies@tpr.org and on Twitter at @DavidMartinDavi