Lawletter No. 48 Vol. 4
ELECTION LAW: Federal District Court Judge Orders Georgia Lawmakers to RedrawCongressional Map for the 2024 Election
Anne Hemenway, Senior Attorney
On October 26, 2023, in three cases similar to the U.S. Supreme Court decision rejecting Alabama's congressional map, the Federal District Court for the Northern District of Georgia in Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. v. Brad Raffensperger, No. 1:21-CV-05337-SCJ, Pendergrass v. Brad Raffensperger, No. 1:21-CV-05339-SCJ, and Grant v. Brad Raffensperger, No. 1:22-CV-00122-SCJ, 2023 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 192080 (N.D. Ga. Oct. 26, 2023), wrote a consolidated 516-page Opinion and Memorandum of Decision also rejecting Georgia lawmakers' congressional maps. In a state where the recent population growth has been almost entirely made up of minority residents, the state's congressional and legislative maps presented to the court did not add more majority-Black districts. Accordingly, the federal court concluded that despite the fact that Black voters have more opportunities, "the political process is not equally open to Black voters." Further, the court concluded that the current U.S. congressional maps presented to the court dilute and diminish the Black population's voting power in the Atlanta area.
Judge Steve Jones gave lawmakers in Georgia until December 8, 2023, to draw new maps that include an additional district with a Black majority or near-majority. In addition, Georgia lawmakers were ordered to redraw some of Georgia's state legislative districts. The State of Georgia announced on October 27, 2023, that it plans to appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.
On June 8, 2023, however, the U.S. Supreme Court, in a narrow 5-4 opinion, in Allen v. Milligan, 599 U.S. 1, 143 S. Ct. 1487, 216 L. Ed. 2d 60 (2023), upheld the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama decision that the state's single Black-majority congressional district was insufficient under the Federal Voting Rights Act (“VRA”), 52 U.S.C. § 10301, which bars states from enacting practices and procedures that discriminate against voters based on race. It mandated the state lawmakers to come up with a new map that complied with the VRA.
Yet in early September 2023, a federal court struck down the lawmakers' second attempt after the lawmakers refused to comply with the Supreme Court's clear mandate to draw a second majority-Black district. Subsequently, a judicial three-member panel picked an Alabama congressional map that gives greater electoral power to Alabama's Black residents, as set forth in the Allen decision.