The Minnesota State Capitol, pictured in the summer.
A Democratic activist group helmed by former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has struck an early blow in what’s expected to be a brutal, nationwide legal battle over congressional redistricting, filing lawsuits in Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Louisiana, asking the judiciary to be ready to step in if mapmakers deadlock.
The lawsuits came just hours after the widely anticipated release of U.S. Census data that will point the way as mapmakers in all 50 states engage in a decennial redraw of congressional and legislative boundaries.
Minnesota barely held on to its eight congressional districts.
In a press call on Tuesday morning, Holder, joined by prominent elections attorney Marc Elias, said his group, the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, was moving early to head-off what they expect will be a coordinated effort by Republicans push through gerrymandered maps that will diminish voters’ voices, particularly people of color.
The lawsuits were filed by the National Redistricting Action Fund, a nonprofit allied with Holder’s group, according to The Hill, a publication that covers Congress.
“We’re facing a Republican Party that is willing to bend or break the rules of democracy simply to hold onto power,” Holder told journalists.
Elias said the lawsuits would be the first of many that will be filed as the fight over congressional maps spools out along an accelerated schedule this year. He tied the coming fight over redistricting to an ongoing one over voting rights that has seen the GOP file hundreds of bills aimed at curtailing access to the polls.
“The connection between voting rights and gerrymandering are joined at the hip,” Elias said. “The efforts you are seeing in legislature after legislature – in the voting rights arena is inextricably linked to the efforts you see Republicans undertaking in the next round of redistricting. It is an effort to undo majoritarian rule, because Republicans no longer have have the majority … The fight against majority rule is central to what Republicans are doing on the voting rights front.”
Nationally, Republicans have dismissed the suits as little more than publicity stunts.
“They’re intentionally doing this just to raise a flag,” Adam Kincaid, executive director of the National Republican Redistricting Trust, told The Hill. “They’re expensive press releases.”
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