SCOTUS Orders Discriminatory, ‘Mean-Spirited’ Map in Place for Galveston County’s 2024 Elections


Today, the U.S. Supreme Court ordered that Galveston County’s 2024 elections be conducted under a discriminatory map that violates Section 2 of the federal Voting Rights Act and fails to give Galveston County’s Black and Latino voters an equal opportunity to elect the candidate of their choice. 

“Today, the Supreme Court decided to force Galveston County’s Black and Latino voters to vote in 2024 under a discriminatory map already deemed illegal, ‘mean-spirited,’ and  ‘egregious’ by a federal judge,” said Mark Gaber, senior director of redistricting at Campaign Legal Center. “This is a historic miscarriage of justice for communities that have faced decades of discrimination. We are disappointed in today’s order, and will continue fighting alongside our partners to ensure that Galveston County’s Black and Latino residents have an opportunity to make their voices heard and elect a representative who will best serve their communities.”

On October 13, a federal judge ruled that Galveston County’s 2021 redistricting plan, which he called “mean-spirited” and “egregious,” violated Section 2 of the federal Voting Rights Act. In that ruling, the judge ordered the county to draw new, fair maps in time for the start of the November 11, 2023 candidate filing period for the 2024 Commissioners Court elections. 

However, Galveston County appealed the ruling to the Fifth Circuit of Appeals and was able to temporarily block new maps from being drawn. The full Fifth Circuit eventually took up the appeal, but CLC and our clients argued that fair districts should be in place while the appeals process was ongoing. Today, the U.S. Supreme Court disagreed.

Now, Galveston County’s 2024 elections will be conducted under a map, known as Map 2, that a federal judge ruled illegal and discriminatory in October. Map 2 guarantees that Black and Latino voters would not be able to elect a representative of choice for the Commissioners Court in any of the county’s four districts.

The case pertaining to today’s order, Petteway v. Galveston County, Texas, was one of the first racial vote dilution cases to go to trial after the U.S. Supreme Court validated Section 2 of the VRA in June’s Allen v. Milligan decision.

More information about the case can be found here.