The American Civil Liberties Union and other groups filed lawsuits against Georgia on Thursday after Governor Brian Kemp signed the state’s new district maps into law, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.
Kemp signed maps drawn by the Republican-dominated state legislature that expands the number of GOP seats even as their vote share continues to fall. Democrats swept the presidential election and both statewide Senate races in 2020 after a razor-thin margin decided Kemp’s 2018 gubernatorial race.
The ACLU and other groups immediately filed lawsuits alleging that the new maps are racially discriminatory because they reduce the voting power of voters of color.
The state’s population increased by 1 million since the last census almost entirely as a result of population growth among people of color.
“Notwithstanding this explosive growth, politicians have failed to draw maps that give many of these new Black voters new opportunities to elect candidates of their choice,” Sean Young, legal director for the ACLU of Georgia, told AJC. “Rather than a new chapter, politicians have stuck with the same discriminatory playbook.”
GOP drew Lucy McBath out:
Some of the lawsuits target the state’s new 6th Congressional district, which is represented by Democrat Lucy McBath.
The GOP legislature redrew McBath’s district, which she won with 55% of the vote, into a district that favors Republicans by 15 points.
“The congressional map signed into law by Gov. Brian Kemp is a shameless power grab that cheats Black voters out of proper representation,” said Marina Jenkins of the National Redistricting Foundation. “We call for a plan that complies with the Voting Rights Act and properly protects the rights of Georgia’s Black voters.”
Legislative districts also favor GOP:
The legislature also drew state House and Senate maps to favor Republicans for years to come.
"The southern Atlanta metro region has seen explosive growth in the Black population over the last decade, and yet the new districts fail to allow those new Black voters to elect candidates of their choice," Young told Georgia Public Broadcasting. "For example, Senate districts 16 and 17 in the south Atlanta metro region only have about 25-35% Black voters, when several of the counties in those districts' Black population have grown by well over 30-40%. So politicians cannot just try to freeze Black political power as if it were still 2010."
The NAACP also filed a lawsuit arguing that maps violate the Constitution and the Voting Rights Act.
"Had the chosen map drawers and the Georgia General Assembly drawn districts that accurately reflect Georgia's increasingly diverse population without the improper consideration of race, opportunities for people of color to elect candidates of their choice would have necessarily increased," the lawsuit says.