US federal judge accepts Georgia’s redrawn congressional, legislative maps

A U.S. Federal judge approved Georgia’s redrawn congressional and legislative maps that include more majority-Black districts despite opposition by Democrats.

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In October, U.S. District Judge Steve Jones ruled that Georgia’s redrawn maps from 2021 did violate Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. He said the old maps were Unconstitutional because they stripped power from black voters.

He ordered lawmakers to add five new state House districts where most voters are black, two new state Senate districts where most voters are black and one new Congressional district where most voters are black.


In response, Republican legislators created two new majority-black districts in the state. However, they were drawn differently than the judge proposed and in a way that would still likely maintain Republicans’ 33-23 edge in the General Assembly.

The new maps were passed in the General Assembly in November during a special session. Gov. Kemp signed the bill into law in December.

After Kemp signed the bill, Democrats quickly filed a lawsuit against the state, arguing that certain provisions of Jones’ initial ruling were not met, including avoiding dilution of the Black vote. The suit argued that the maps didn’t follow the judge’s orders but made changes in other parts of the state to attempt to fulfill the requirements of the ruling.

“At the end of an election day, the results should reflect the will of the voters, not the creativity of map makers, and that’s what we have right now,” said Rep. Billy Mitchell, Chair of the House Democratic Caucus.

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On Thursday, Jones ruled that the General Assembly was allowed to meet the requirements of the initial ruling by “adopting substitute measures” and that Democrats’ arguments against the new maps were not backed up.

“The court rejects the foundational assumption of the Plaintiffs’ arguments: that because the October 23, 2023 order listed specific congressional districts... the State was confined to making changes in those districts when creating the 2023 Remedial Congressional Plan.”

The ruling concluded that the General Assembly fully complied with the court’s order requiring the creation of a majority-Black congressional district and overruled the objections.

“I took the order very seriously, and I’m pleased that Judge Jones found that we did comply,” said Rep. Rob Leverett.

Rep. Mitchell said these new maps will give black voters more representation. However, he said they break up districts that lean blue known as coalition districts.

“Which is very disappointing because we’re subject to lose some very good members of this House of Representatives as a result,” said Rep. Mitchell.

“We did consider political factors and issues during redistricting,” said Rep. Leverett. “We’re permitted to do that. I would just say we weren’t as partisan as the Democrats were.”

The new district lines will likely be used in the 2024 election.

U.S. Representative Lucy McBath, who represents the state’s seventh district, released a statement saying she disagrees with the new maps.

“I refuse to allow an extremist few Republicans decide when my work in Congress is finished. I hope that the judicial system will not allow the state legislature to suppress the will of Georgia voters,” the statement said in part.

She goes on to say that if the maps stand, she will run for reelection in the state’s sixth district, which she previously represented before moving to the seventh during the 2020 election.

The Georgia Democrats released a statement, saying:

“We are disappointed in today’s ruling. Georgia Democrats fought hard for maps that would ensure Black voters had a fair chance to make their voices heard, but Republicans once again played partisan games with redistricting.”While we respect the court’s ruling, we are more committed than ever to ending Republicans’ days of diluting minority voting power via gerrymandering. Voter protection and empowerment is at the heart of Georgia Democrats’ mission, and we will fight harder than ever to ensure that every Georgia voter can make their voice heard in our democracy.”


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