Republicans could be losing a House of Representatives seat after a judge in Georgia on Thursday overturned the state’s new congressional map.
Steve C. Jones, a U.S. District Court judge, ruled that the map that was drawn by members of the GOP in the state amounts to a gerrymander that “dilutes” power of all Black voters. As a result, it is in violation of the Voting Rights Act.
Due to the ruling, the Georgia state legislature now must draw up a new congressional district that is a majority Black. This adds pressure to the GOP as they are trying to maintain the slim majority they have in the House heading into the elections next year.
In his ruling, Jones wrote:
“Although the Court commends the progress that Georgia has made since 1965, when weighing the Senate Factors, the Court finds that the Enacted Congressional Plan dilutes Black voting power in west-metro Atlanta.”
He added that over the last 50 years, Georgia has become “more politically open” to voters who are Black.
Legislators in Georgia now must draw up a congressional map for the western part of Atlanta, which is split between a few different districts. Those who were critical of the current map say that state legislators divided voters who are Black so they could try to give Republicans more seats on the House of Representatives.
The plaintiffs in this case proposed their own map, which redrew the 6th Congressional District into one that’s compromised majoritively of Black voters. The region would include parts of Fulton, Fayette, Douglas and Cobb counties.
That district is held currently by Republican Representative Rich McCormick. Over the last few years, those suburban areas have increasingly become Democratic, which has helped boost liberals in races that are held across the state.
That map wasn’t enacted, though, only proposed. The deadline for lawmakers in the state to draw a new map is December 8. If they don’t meet that deadline, the court will end up drawing it.
As a result of the new congressional map, it’s “highly likely” that Democrats will end up picking up a seat in the next Congress, according to Emory University professor of political science Zachary Peskowitz. He also added that the judge’s ruling wasn’t surprising at all.
“[The ruling] was fairly expected. I think from previous rulings of the judge, the plaintiffs had an established violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. It’s not surprising that the plaintiffs won.”
In addition to having an effect on federal elections, Peskowitz added that the map for the state’s General Assembly will be affected as well. As a result, there could be wide-ranging implications on various policy throughout Georgia, which could include how elections overall are administered in the state.
Eric Holder, who is a former U.S. attorney general, took to the social media platform X to share his thoughts on the ruling. He wrote:
“A Georgia federal court has ruled that Georgia’s congressional and state legislative maps are gerrymanders that violate Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act for diluting the voting power of Black Georgians. New maps for 2024 elections.”
He added that it was “another significant win for voters.”