Here's how it works. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 prohibits the once-common practice of spreading minorities across voting districts, leaving them too few in number in any given district to elect their preferred candidates. The practice was known as "racial gerrymandering." Wow, conservatives must hate being required to create districts where minority voters are the majority, right? Wrong! They love it! Why? Because creating majority-minority districts allows them to racially gerrymander more effectively than ever.
There's a reason why Alabama, Mississippi and South Carolina each send exactly one Democrat (and one person of color) to the US House despite the fact that those states have a lot of minority voters. It's because most of those minority voters are carefully packed into a single congressional district.
Grant Hayden, a Professor of Law at Hofstra University has written a good summary the problem:
"[M]ajority-minority districts give rise to a dynamic that undercuts the very goal they are designed to achieve. While they improve the ability of minority voters to elect a candidate of their choice in a particular district, they also cost their preferred political party other valuable seats in the legislature."
"Majority-minority districts have at least one very curious effect: they help Republicans. This is curious because minority voters, especially blacks, vote for Democrats in overwhelming numbers. But upon closer study, this by-product of majority-minority districts merely fulfills a longstanding theoretical prediction."
"The theory goes like this. When creating a majority-minority political district, the additional minority voters must come from somewhere. That somewhere is adjoining districts, which are drained of their minority voters. Those voters, though, are not merely minority voters-they are also reliably Democratic voters. And this makes it more likely that the Republican candidates will prevail in those adjoining districts."
Would this actually happen in practice? It's well-documented that it already has. After the 1990 census, scores of majority-minority districts were created in order to comply with the mandates of the Voting Rights Act. For example, thirteen additional majority-black Congressional districts were created. They, in turn, produced thirteen additional black representatives. Majority-minority districting did, indeed, lead to the election of the candidates of the minorities' choosing."
"Unfortunately, a large number of studies of the 1992 and 1994 Congressional elections revealed that this additional representation came at a cost. As a result of majority-minority districting, Democrats lost at least ten seats to Republicans. When minority voters were drained out of adjoining districts, Republican majorities were the result."
This January, the US Supreme Court agreed to hear a case on racial gerrymandering of the kind described above orchestrated by Texas Republicans. This is in addition to the two cases the Court had already agreed to hear on gerrymandering, the first from Wisconsin regarding the extreme Republican gerrymander in that state, the second regarding the gerrymander of a single congressional seat in Maryland by Democrats.
As noted by Pema Levy of Mother Jones:
"This summer, a three-judge panel in San Antonio found that Texas Republicans intentionally weakened the voting power of African American and Latino voters when it drew multiple state House and congressional districts. This was the ninth racial discrimination in voting case the state has lost since 2011, which includesa long legal battle over its stringent voter ID requirement. Now, the Supreme Court will determine whether Texas’ maps can stand."
Whether Texas intentionally weakened the voting power of minorities through gerrymander in that state is not really a question, given that Texas Governor Greg Abbot has said, "[i]n 2011, both houses of the Texas Legislature were controlled by large Republican majorities, and their redistricting decisions were designed to increase the Republican Party’s electoral prospects at the expense of the Democrats."
The real question is, how long and to what degree with the Court (and Americans at large) will continue to let Republicans get away with this garbage.