Federal lawsuit targets ‘gerrymandered’ Georgia House districts

Credit: Bob Andres

Credit: Bob Andres

A Washington-based advocacy group asked a federal judge Wednesday to toss out a 2015 map that was designed to protect two vulnerable lawmakers, contending in a motion that records show minority voters were moved out of the districts to protect incumbents.

The Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law claims the districts of Reps. Joyce Chandler, R-Grayson, and Brian Strickland, R-McDonough, were redrawn in 2015 to increase the percentage of white voters. Strickland has since won a state Senate election.

State officials have said the suit is without merit.

The motion seeks an expedited hearing on the case to give the federal court enough time to rule before the 2018 vote. Kristin Clarke, the group’s executive director, said Georgia was a “textbook example” of unlawful gerrymandering.

“Our action seeks to fight back against the unlawful actions of Georgia legislators who have put their thumb on the scale of democracy at the expense of minority voters,” she said.

Georgia lawmakers in 2015 passed a measure that adjusted the lines of 17 districts, including Chandler’s seat and Strickland’s seat. Those two districts were among the most competitive in the 180-member House, and the lawsuit claims they were redrawn to sap minority voting power.

The motion includes dozens of pages of documents that the group said shows lawmakers used “racial data as a proxy for political affiliation” to pinpoint how many black voters it needed to shift.