Galveston County officials have been ordered to redistrict Commissioners Court precinct boundaries by Oct. 20 after a judge ruled the county’s 2021 redistricting map was discriminatory, according to an Oct. 13 news release from the Southern Coalition for Social Justice.

However, county officials said they plan to appeal the ruling.

The backstory

On Oct. 13, the SCSJ and the Texas Civil Rights Project held a briefing on the outcome of Petteway v. Galveston County.

In the case, U.S. District Court Judge Jeffrey Brown ruled in favor of the plaintiffs who argued that when Galveston County officials redistricted in 2021, they intentionally discriminated against the county’s Black and Latino residents, particularly in Precinct 3, in an attempt to dilute their votes, according to the release.

“Galveston County commissioners intentionally discriminated against the growing minority population and split up the only majority-minority district with new maps in 2021,” the release reads.

Black and Latino residents comprise 45% of Galveston County’s population, according to the release.

On Oct. 13, Galveston County officials announced they would appeal the decision to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Those in favor
  • “We are thrilled with today’s decision. Now, Black and Latino Galveston residents will once again have a fair shot to influence the decisions that shape their community. ... We hope the Commissioners Court takes this opportunity to draw a new map that ensures that the community will have their votes, voices and needs heard for the next decade,” said Sarah Xiyi Chen, attorney for the Voting Rights Program at the TCRP, in the release.
  • “For Galvestonians, this is monumental,” Galveston NAACP President Mary Patrick said during the briefing.
  • “We live in such a great country, where the right to vote is fundamental. ... This win today marks the end of a long fight for our community to be represented in our government; we all as Americans should be happy with the result of this case,” plaintiff Joe Compian said in the release.
  • “The community is delighted. Everybody’s been real pleased. It’s just so good that all our hard work paid off,” Galveston NAACP member Patricia Toliver said about the verdict during the briefing.
Those opposed
  • “We are disappointed in today’s decision. We are confident that we will win this case on appeal. The county followed redistricting law and did not engage in any racial discrimination. We believe this will be vindicated by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. As county judge, I have never lost a voting rights act case on appeal,” County Judge Mark Henry said in a county news release.
What else?

The lawsuit was filed in 2022 by the SCSJ; the TCRP; three Galveston-area branches of the NAACP; the local council for the League of United Latin American Citizens; and three civil rights leaders—Compian, Edna Courville and Leon Phillips.