A federal judge in Georgia on Thursday approved the state’s Republican-drawn congressional maps that both add a majority-Black district and deal a major win to the state’s GOP as it looks to keep its majority.
U.S. District Judge Steve C. Jones issued a 15-page order Thursday that accepted the newly drawn maps, stating the Georgia General Assembly “fully complied” with his October order to create a majority-Black congressional district in the western part of metro Atlanta.
The new maps divide Rep. Lucy McBath’s (D-Ga.) district in northeast Atlanta between neighboring representatives and move it to a more rural area, likely to fall to a Republican. As a result, the maps are widely expected to maintain Republicans’ 9-5 majority among House members.
The maps also create a new western Atlanta district including parts of Fulton, Douglas and Cobb counties that is majority Black, according to court documents.
Rep. Lucy McBath, D-Ga., speaks in support of Democratic gun control measures, called the Protecting Our Kids Act at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, June 2, 2022. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
The maps were drawn up in response to Jones’s October ruling that struck down Georgia’s congressional and state legislative maps. Jones ruled the maps violated the Voting Rights Act by diluting the power of Black voters in the Peach State and gave the state Legislature until Dec. 8 to draw new lines.
Democrats and voting rights groups argued the new maps, approved by Georgia’s House on Dec. 7 in a special legislative session, did not follow Jones’s order to create the new Black-majority district “by eliminating minority opportunity districts elsewhere in the plans.”
In his order Thursday, Jones said he does not hold the constitutional power to make legislative choices regarding policy, even when such a choice appears “unwise.”
Congressional maps have recently been challenged and redrawn in various states, including New York, Wisconsin and Alabama, where battles over election maps could play a large role in the 2024 election.
Earlier in October, a panel of federal judges approved a new congressional map for Alabama after versions drawn by the state’s Republican-controlled Legislature were struck down for diluting the power of Black voters. The new map keeps Alabama’s one existing majority-Black district and nearly adds a second one, upping Democrats’ chances of flipping a seat in the Senate.
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