(The Center Square) — A federal judge found Georgia lawmakers “fully complied” with his order when they drafted and passed revised congressional and state legislative maps during a special session earlier this month.
Lawmakers needed to redraw state Legislature and congressional district maps after U.S. District Judge Steve C. Jones said they violated the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and weakened the strength of Black voters.
In a 15-page ruling handed down Thursday, Jones said Georgia lawmakers “fully complied with this Court’s order requiring the creation of a majority-Black congressional district in the region of the State where vote dilution was found.”
State Democrats said they were “disappointed” by the 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,” Democratic Party of Georgia Executive Director Kevin Olasanoye said in a statement.
“While we respect the court’s ruling, we are more committed than ever to ending Republicans’ days of diluting minority voting power via gerrymandering,” Olasanoye added. “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.”
While Georgia Democrats expressed their displeasure with the new maps during the special session, state Republicans argued the maps were fair and took umbrage at the notion that the maps would disenfranchise voters or that they didn’t comply with Jones’ order.
In his ruling, Jones noted that “the committee and floor debate transcripts make clear that the General Assembly created the 2023 Remedial Congressional Plan in a manner that politically protected the” Republican majority “as much as possible.”
“However, redistricting decisions by a legislative body with an eye toward securing partisan advantage does not alone violate Section 2” of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, Jones added. “In fact, the Supreme Court has expressly stated that federal judges have no license to reallocate political power between the two major political parties, given the lack of constitutional authority and the absence of legal standards to direct such decisions.”
By T.A. DeFeo | The Center Square contributor