U.S. Supreme Court ruling on gerrymandering could impact Georgia

A child looks over redistricting maps during a 2011 public hearing. AJC FILE PHOTO
A child looks over redistricting maps during a 2011 public hearing. AJC FILE PHOTO



An upcoming U.S. Supreme Court decision on gerrymandering could affect Georgia districts that were redrawn to benefit Republican state legislators.

The Supreme Court is expected to rule in the coming weeks on whether it's unconstitutional to change district borders to benefit one political party over another.

That's what happened in Georgia in 2015, when the state Legislature altered the boundaries of House districts in Gwinnett and Henry counties, according to a recent federal court ruling. The districts were redrawn by the Republican-controlled Legislature to exclude neighborhoods that usually voted for Democrats, which helped ensure the re-election of two Republicans: state Rep. Joyce Chandler and former state Rep. Brian Strickland, who is now a state senator.

Because partisan redistricting is currently allowed, the federal court on June 1 denied a request for a preliminary injunction to halt upcoming elections in those districts.

The plaintiffs in that case, including the Georgia chapter of the NAACP, argued the districts were changed to disempower black voters. But the federal court's decision said the plaintiffs couldn't refute testimony that partisanship — not race — was legislators' primary motivation.

The decision notes that the Supreme Court will soon weigh in.

A ruling from the high court on partisan gerrymandering — by Republicans in Wisconsin and Democrats in Maryland — could be handed down by the end of this month.

Read more about gerrymandering in Georgia on PoliticallyGeorgia.com.

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