Georgia: Voting Rights Groups Challenge Racially Gerrymandered Congressional Districts

Black Voters Matter
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Photos: Common Cause\LaTosha Brown

ATLANTA – Voting rights groups and Georgia voters filed a lawsuit in federal court this week charging that the 6th, 13th, and 14th Congressional Districts of Georgia violate the Constitution and unlawfully diminish the voting power of voters of color.

The lawsuit highlights both the long history of the white majority in Georgia using racial discrimination to maintain political power and the persistent need for the federal government to step in to ensure maps allocate political power in a way that does not violate federal law or the Constitution. The suit charges that the newly drawn congressional map violates the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution by intentionally denying Black communities in Georgia representation and therefore equal protection of the law.

The case, Common Cause, et al. v. Brad Raffensperger, et al., was brought on behalf of Common Cause, the League of Women Voters of Georgia, and individual Georgians. They are being represented by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) and Dechert LLP. The complaint filed can be found HERE.

“The Georgia legislature has ‘cracked’ and ‘packed’ communities of color in the congressional districts map, denying voters of color an equal voice in elections,” said Jack Genberg, senior staff attorney for the SPLC. “This map must be remedied to prevent harm to Georgia’s communities of color for years to come. These unlawful districts would diminish communities’ ability to advocate for fair treatment and allocation of funds from their government.”

“We continue our longstanding commitment to ensuring all eligible voters are fairly represented and able to meaningfully participate in the political process without having their votes diluted,” said Hartley West, Partner with Dechert, LLP.

The complaint explains that:

  • State legislators cracked Georgia’s 6th Congressional District by siphoning away voters of color to other districts, removing almost half of 6th District voters.
  • State legislators replaced the voters of color in the 6th District with white voters so remaining voters of color have less of a voice electing their preferred candidate.
  • The General Assembly pieced together Black communities in parts of six counties to pack the 13th District with a Black population much larger than necessary to elect Black-preferred candidates, reducing Black voting strength in other districts.
  • State Legislators cracked Black communities in Cobb County into to the largely rural, white, 14th District, forcing them into a district that doesn’t reflect their community.
  • Black residents of Cobb County will be represented by Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, a congresswoman known for racist statements against her new constituents.

Upon filing, plaintiffs said:

  • “Georgia's political maps must reflect the interests of the people—not the politicians,” said Aunna Dennis, Executive Director of Common Cause Georgia. “These maps intentionally discriminate against Georgians of color by silencing our voices at the ballot box. We look forward to seeing these maps corrected so that they give voice to every voter, regardless of race, ethnicity, or background.”
  • “Despite hours of testimony from constituents at hearings across the state last year, demanding fair districts lines that keep communities of interest intact and avoid racial gerrymandering, the Georgia Legislature has created a number of Congressional districts that once again unconstitutionally pack and crack racial minorities in order to dilute the voices of voters of color in Georgia,” said Susannah Scott, President of the League of Women Voters of Georgia. “This is unacceptable and the League of Women Voters of Georgia is proud to fight to ensure that the bedrock principle of ‘one person, one vote’ is honored in Georgia.”
  • “These new political maps pack together disparate communities that don't have anything in common in terms of concerns and needs,” said Georgia voter Dr. Ursula Thomas, Ed.D. “I fear that it will disenfranchise my diverse urban and suburban community and deny us equitable treatment.”
  • “The Clayton County voters in GA's 13th Congressional District are the economic and human resource hubs for the world's busiest airport, but some politicians in state government still diminish our voices by packing Black & Brown votes into only one district,” said Georgia voter Jasmine Bowles. “Despite the scope of our human labor, and how much revenue we help generate for our state, we were denied our fair say in how maps were redrawn, stripping us of our fair portion of resources and representation.”

The complaint can be found here: For more information, visit www.splcenter.org.

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