Next Story

Lawsuit claims GA House districts drawn to remove minority voters

Lawsuit claims Georgia House districts drawn to remove minority voters


Voters opposed to a 2015 redistricting plan have filed a second federal lawsuit claiming Georgia illegally “gerrymandered” two state House districts by moving minority voters out of areas represented by vulnerable white Republican lawmakers.

The suit, filed Tuesday by 11 residents who live in and around those districts in metro Atlanta, said that the boundary lines of the seats held by state Reps. Joyce Chandler, R-Grayson, and Brian Strickland, R-McDonough, were redrawn two years ago to increase the percentage of white voters in those districts to protect both incumbents.

Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, who administers elections, is named as the sole defendant. A spokesman for Kemp said his office had not yet seen the suit. A spokesman for House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, declined comment.

The suit is being sponsored by the National Redistricting Foundation, an organization led by former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, who served in the Obama Administration, and also has the support of Atlanta’s Democratic U.S. Rep. John Lewis.

Chandler’s District 105 seat in Gwinnett County and Strickland’s District 111 in Henry County have been two of the most competitive in the Republican-led, 180-member House. Both district boundaries were changed in 2015 when lawmakers passed House Bill 566, which also adjusted the lines of 15 other districts.

House members who authored the legislation have long claimed they had no ill intent in redrawing the districts, saying that the overall changes in the bill had been requested by lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.

The lawsuit, however, claimed the changes to Districts 105 and 111 in particular show how the bill “specifically targets districts where white Republicans have become increasingly vulnerable to challenge by African-American Democratic candidates, moving voters in and out of House districts based on their race so as to shore up the incumbent Republicans’ prospects in future elections.”

It also noted the state’s history of racial discrimination, saying changes that once may have been reviewed under a now-defunct portion of the Voting Rights Act needed intervention by a federal court.

It’s a challenge that has national implications, coming as the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday heard arguments over alleged gerrymandering in a Wisconsin case involving election maps for state lawmakers there. A three-judge panel ruled last year that those maps were drawn so heavily toward Republicans that they violated Democratic voters’ constitutional rights, a decision the nation’s highest court is now reviewing.

The Georgia suit also follows a similar one filed here in April by the national Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, which also targeted the 2015 redistricting effort over the same two districts.


Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Georgia Politics

Audio: Analysis of the Atlanta mayoral debate
Audio: Analysis of the Atlanta mayoral debate

Audio from the Atlanta mayoral debate held Oct. 22, 2017.
Cheerleaders continue to take a knee at Kennesaw State football games
Cheerleaders continue to take a knee at Kennesaw State football games

Four Kennesaw State University cheerleaders were seen taking a knee in the stadium tunnel during the national anthem at the university’s football game Saturday evening, continuing their protest to raise awareness about police misconduct and racial inequality. The protest is part of an ongoing controversy on the 35,000 student campus that has...
Georgia Rep. Betty Price responds to critics on HIV quarantine query
Georgia Rep. Betty Price responds to critics on HIV quarantine query

Georgia Rep. Betty Price, in a statement to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution Saturday, said her comments on people with HIV that ignited a national firestorm this week were “taken completely out of context.” Price, the wife of former U.S. health secretary Tom Price, was in a study committee Tuesday when she asked a state health official...
Five seek to replace Vincent Fort in state Senate
Five seek to replace Vincent Fort in state Senate

For 20 years, Democratic state Sen. Vincent Fort represented the residents of the state’s 39th Senate District. Now, five candidates are vying for the seat Fort left vacant in August when he signed up to run for Atlanta mayor. Four Democrats and one Republican hope to represent the predominately black district that stretches from Buckhead...
Georgia lawmaker’s suggestion of HIV ‘quarantine’ sparks furor
Georgia lawmaker’s suggestion of HIV ‘quarantine’ sparks furor

State Rep. Betty Price, working with a legislative committee studying access to healthcare, asked a state official this week if there was a legal way to quarantine people with HIV. Price, R-Roswell, is a physician and the wife of Tom Price, who recently resigned as U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services. Her questions came during a presentation...
More Stories