Federal Court Orders Georgia to Redraw State Legislative District Maps That Dilute the Black Vote

Georgia lawmakers must redraw state legislative district maps after a federal court found that they discriminated against Black voters on Thursday.

The decision was made in a complaint filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of Georgia, and WilmerHale on behalf of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc., sixth district of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, and four Georgia voters.

Federal Court Orders Georgia to Redraw State Legislative District Maps That Dilute the Black Vote
A Vote Here sign directs voters to a polling station set up at the Israel Missionary Baptist Church on May 24, 2022, in Atlanta, Georgia. Election Day in the Georgia primaries allows people to vote on Republican and Democratic nominees for offices. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

They argued that the maps deny Black voters in Georgia an equal opportunity to elect candidates of choice in violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

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The act bars any state law or practice “which results in a denial or abridgement of the right of any citizen of the United States to vote on account of race or color” and prohibits any redistricting plan where minority groups “have less opportunity than other members of the electorate to participate in the political process and to elect representatives of their choice.”

The Georgia General Assembly drew the maps in 2021 based on 2022 U.S. Census data, which the plaintiffs argued showed growth in the state’s Black population. However, lawmakers crafted district lines that diluted the Black vote, the group claimed. Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp officially made the maps law on Dec. 30, 2021.

The court ruled Thursday that by failing to draw two new Black districts in the state Senate and five new Black districts in the state House, Georgia violated the Voting Rights Act. The federal court also ordered the General Assembly to draw new maps by Dec. 8, 2023.

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“This ruling is a victory for Black voters in Georgia, and for anyone who believes voting should be fair. This decision confirms that Black voters were illegally shut out of political opportunities in the state. The court’s ruling is a vital step in ensuring that Black Georgians can participate in the political process on equal terms,” said Sophia Lin Lakin, director of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project.

Georgia attorneys can still appeal the ruling. The move would not immediately impact voters because there are no statewide elections this year.

“Today’s decision charts a path to correct that grave injustice before the 2024 election cycle. The General Assembly should now move swiftly to enact a remedial map that fairly represents Black voters,” Rahul Garabadu, senior voting rights staff attorney at the ACLU of Georgia.

Read the original story here.

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