Challenges to Georgia political maps set for federal court trial | news


A trio of redistricting challenges in Georgia will advance to trial this fall following a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that Alabama’s 2022 congressional maps violated the Voting Rights Act.

The potential effect of last month’s Supreme Court decision on Georgia’s maps remains to be seen, but if the pending challenges here are successful, it could send lawmakers back to the Gold Dome to draw new maps.

Federal Judge Steve C. Jones has allowed three separate but similar lawsuits in Georgia to go to trial together on September 5.

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who is accused in all three cases, had tried to have the challenges dismissed. Attorneys for the state argued in a briefing last month that the Supreme Court’s decision on the Alabama maps provided little direction on what to do with the Georgia cases.

Jones wrote in his order Monday that there are “significant factual disputes and credibility determinations” that merit examination.

“Furthermore, given the seriousness and importance of the right to an equal vote for all American citizens, the Court will conduct a thorough and comprehensive review of the evidence that the parties will present in this case at trial,” Jones said.

The judge appointed by President Barack Obama ruled early last year that the 2022 election should be held under the new maps because of the fast-approaching legislatures, but called it a “difficult decision” at the time.

A spokesman for Raffensperger declined to comment Tuesday on pending litigation.

Attorneys for one of the plaintiffs, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, celebrated the judge’s decision Tuesday.

“We look forward to presenting evidence at trial to ensure Georgia voters have fair maps before the 2024 election cycle,” said Rahul Garabadu, senior voting rights attorney for the ACLU of Georgia, who works with the Washington, D.C.-based law firm WilmerHale.

Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity’s lawsuit challenges the state’s House and Senate district maps and argues that there should have been more than a half-dozen new majority-black districts to reflect Georgia’s growing black population.

Another lawsuit by the trio challenges the congressional map, which gave Republicans another seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. Of Georgia’s 14 congressional seats, Republicans now hold nine, up from eight last year.

State lawmakers met during a special session in late 2021 to draw new districts using the 2020 US Census count, which was delayed by the pandemic. The maps were approved through party-line votes.

In Alabama, state lawmakers are meeting this week to draw a new congressional map. House and Senate Republicans approved two different congressional maps in committee on Tuesday, potentially creating a conflict just days before a deadline to file proposals in federal court, the Alabama Reflector reports.

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