Last week, the Supreme Court of Texas heard arguments regarding what is being described as a “pro-GOP” redrawing of voting district lines. The Mexican American Legislative Caucus (MALC), a Latino advocacy organization, brought the case before the Court, arguing that the “new redistricting maps were unconstitutionally drawn.”

Central to the case is Cameron County, the southernmost county in Texas. The MALC sued Governor Greg Abbott over its redistricting lines, claiming that the redrawn district not only violates the “county line rule,” but that the redistricting was done to lower the number of counties where hispanic and Latino people are the majority.

When the census is taken every 10 years, states must revise their voting district maps to keep proportions even.

Census data reveals that Texas’ population grew by 86.3% between 2010 and 2020. The increase in population afforded Texas two more United States Congressional Districts.

There are certain established rules that the state governments must follow when redistricting. One of these is the aforementioned “county line rule,” which holds that “house districts must be wholly contained within a county when the population supports it.”

The MALC lawsuit hinges explicitly on the State’s alleged violation of the “county-line” rule.

The advocacy group claims that due to the population growth in 2020, Cameron County should now contain two whole districts, while the new maps leave the county with only one district inside county lines. The redrawn lines encompass parts of Cameron County with parts of neighboring Hildalgo.

The MALC holds that the redrawn maps have decreased the number of Latino-majority districts, bringing the previous total of thirty-three down to only thirty; it alleges that the voting maps were redrawn in an effort to promote white majorities in these districts.

At the time of the 2020 Census, 39.3% of Texas’ residents were hispanic or Latino. In Cameron County, hispanic and Latino people made up 89.5% of the population, the seventh-largest percentage of any county in Texas.

“The important thing from MALC’s perspective is that Cameron County is one of the most heavily Latino counties in the state, and it’s more Latino than its neighbors, so when they unnecessarily break it into more districts and bring in outside populations, it’s diluting the Latino voting power in at least one representative district,” said Joaquin Gonzalez of MALC’s legal counsel.

Cameron County has a population of 420,000 residents, though standards say that the “ideal” district encompasses 194,000 voters.

On the other hand, Lorna Pettit, the attorney representing Texas, said that the lines were drawn “in good faith” as state redistricting must also comply with federal laws. One of those laws is the “one person-one vote” principle, which calls for equal electoral divisions to have the same number of voters.

She maintains that the criteria of both legislatures were followed.

Pettit also argued that Texas courts lack jurisdiction to intercede in matters such as redistricting except when absolutely necessary, and the plaintiff’s claims should be dismissed.

“This court has repeatedly recognized that redistricting is a uniquely legislative task,” Pettit said. “Only most in the exigent circumstances can a court invade that arena without affording the Legislature a full opportunity to correct any defects. This is not such a circumstance.”

The Texas Latino Redistricting Task Force — which includes groups such as the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), Southwest Voter Registration Education Project, and Mi Familia Vota — also filed a lawsuit challenging Texas’ redistricting results in October of last year. The suit was consolidated with eight others, all filed on the grounds that the redrawn maps violated the Fourteenth Amendment.

Abbott filed a motion to dismiss the plaintiff’s claims on March 14.

The motion argues that plaintiffs must prove discriminatory effect — that the maps directly hinder a minority population’s ability to vote in a district.

Additionally, the motion notes that the plaintiffs must prove discriminatory intent — that the State drew the new maps specifically to harm a minority group.

The State claims that these cases do not meet those requirements.

Attorney General Paxton took to Twitter to discuss the issue, saying, “The Department of Justice’s absurd lawsuit against our state is the Biden Administration’s latest ploy to control Texas voters. I am confident that our legislature’s redistricting decisions will be proven lawful, and this preposterous attempt to sway democracy will fail.”