In an apparent trend, Georgia on Thursday became the latest in a series of states being ordered by federal judges to draw new congressional districts in an effort to give greater representation to Black voters.
In fact, U.S. District Judge Steve Jones ordered the Peach State to create two new Black-majority voting districts, the Associated Press reported.
“Georgia has made great strides since 1965 toward equality in voting,” Jones wrote in part of a 516-page order. “However, the evidence before this court shows that Georgia has not reached the point where the political process has equal openness and equal opportunity for everyone.”
Bishop Reginald T. Jackson, the Presiding Prelate of the Sixth Episcopal District and one of the plaintiffs in the case, welcomed the judge’s order on Thursday.
“While it has been a long march to justice, today’s decision reaffirms what so many of us already knew, that extremists in our own Legislature did indeed illegally map out the congressional and legislative districts to weaken the vote of Georgia’s Black voters,” Jackson said in a statement emailed to NewsOne. “Frederick Douglass once said, ‘Power concedes nothing without a demand.’ Together, the people of Georgia and our justice system have now demanded that those in power must right these wrongs and I sincerely hope that the process of now redrawing Georgia’s districts is done swiftly, thoroughly, and complies with the letter of the law.”
Jackson also added: “It is unfortunate that, decades after the Civil Rights Movement, we still need to defend and promote the right for the African-American community to vote and make no mistake that we will continue to fight for these causes, not only because the facts and the law are on our side, but because Democracy is our country’s most important tenant and is always worth fighting for.”
Congressional Black Caucus Chairman Steven Horsford as cautiously optimistic and warned against pushback from Republicans.
“Today, a federal judge ruled that some of Georgia’s congressional and state legislative maps diluted the voting power of Black voters in violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. The judge made clear that maps drawn in a racially discriminatory manner would not be permitted and ordered Georgia Governor Brian Kemp and the Republican majority General Assembly to redraw the maps with an additional majority Black congressional district before December 8,” Horsford said in a statement sent to NewsOne. “While today’s decision is a victory for Black voters in Georgia and for the Voting Rights Act, the decision will likely be appealed by the Republican-controlled state legislature, which underscores the need to pass federal voting rights legislation. As such, the Congressional Black Caucus will continue our efforts in Congress to pass the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to restore the full protections of the Voting Rights Act.”
Meanwhile, a pending decision by the U.S. Supreme Court about congressional redistricting in South Carolina is expected to set a national precedent.
“The case, Alexander v. South Carolina State Conference of the NAACP, concerns the way state legislatures consider race and party when they are redrawing state voting maps,” College of Charleston political science professors Claire Wofford and Gibbs Knotts wrote recently.
And earlier this month in Alabama, a federal court approved a new congressional map in the southeastern portion of the state with a 48.7% Black voting-age population. Before the new district was approved, Black Alabamians, who make up 27% of the state’s population, were only represented in one of the state’s seven congressional districts.
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