ATLANTA — The American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of Georgia, and WilmerHale filed a federal lawsuit today on behalf of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc., the Sixth District of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, and several individual Georgia voters challenging newly drawn state House and Senate district lines as unlawfully minimizing the voting strength of Black Georgians.

The challenged maps were approved by the General Assembly before Thanksgiving, yet Gov. Brian Kemp delayed his formal signature until the last possible moment — this afternoon — dramatically shortening the time that courts will have to evaluate the legality before the March filing deadline for the 2022 primary elections. 

The lawsuit charges that the newly drawn maps deny Black residents an equal opportunity to participate in the political process and elect candidates of choice, in violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. New political maps are drawn as part of a once-in-a-decade redistricting process triggered by census data. They determine the allocation of political power, representation, and access to resources at every level of government across the country for the next 10 years.

“These newly drawn maps are a brazen attempt by Georgia politicians to undermine the political power of Black voters. State legislatures are responsible for laws and policies that profoundly impact our daily lives. There’s no legitimate justification for drawing maps that deny Black voters an opportunity to elect representatives who will fight for them in these critical statehouse deliberations. Politicians don’t get to choose their voters — voters get to choose their politicians,” said Sophia Lin Lakin, deputy director of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project.

Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act bans the drawing of legislative district lines that dilute the voting strength of communities of color. In the last decade, Black citizens drove Georgia’s significant population growth, yet the state Legislature failed to draw district lines that would allow these new voters an equal opportunity to elect their candidates of choice. 

According to the lawsuit, the Georgia General Assembly could have — and should have — drawn more than a half-dozen additional new Black-majority districts in light of the tremendous growth of the state’s Black population over the last decade.

Georgia lawmakers could have drawn such districts in the southern and eastern parts of the Atlanta metro region, in the area around Augusta, and in southwestern Georgia around Albany. Instead, they chose to draw district lines that attempt to deny the state’s undeniable demographic shift, diluting the political power of Black voters.

“For 150 years, politicians on both sides of the aisle have stopped at nothing to prevent voters from fairly electing their leaders, especially citizens who are Black. It’s well past time for Georgia to turn the page and allow all citizens to participate fully in our democracy,” said Sean J. Young, legal director of the ACLU of Georgia. 

The case, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity v. Raffensperger, was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia.

Complaint: https://www.aclu.org/legal-document/complaint-alpha-phi-alpha-fraternity-v-raffensperger

 

 

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