The Jolt: Lawsuits swirling for Georgia’s redrawn districts

News and analysis from the politics team at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Gov. Brian Kemp still hasn’t signed into law the new political maps designed to preserve Republican control of the Legislature well into the decade and give the GOP control of an additional congressional seat.

But expect a wave of litigation to immediately follow the moment the governor inks the legislation.

A number of left-leaning groups are preparing lawsuits behind the scenes alleging that the lines were redrawn to dilute the power of minority voters.

They’re paying particularly close attention to the new boundaries for the U.S. House seats held by U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath, who was drawn into virtually unwinnable territory; U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop, whose district grew whiter and more rural; and state Sen. Michelle Au, the lone female Asian-American in the chamber whose new lines would be considerably more GOP friendly.

Marc Elias, a prominent Democratic attorney and former counsel to the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign, put the inevitability of litigation into context with a tweet that ranked Georgia the top state among 10 to watch for “new voting rights, redistricting and pro-democracy litigation.”

He was quickly seconded by officials with the Atlanta NAACP and other critics of the new GOP maps. U.S. Rep. Nikema Williams, who also chairs the state Democratic Party, wrote, “As a Black woman in Georgia, I fully understand that litigation is often necessary to make sure that everyone has a voice in our democracy.”

Late Sunday night, Elias added, “I expect new pro-democracy litigation tomorrow.”

Republican leaders have defended the maps as both fair and legal and in keeping with the parameters of the Voting Rights Act.

House Speaker David Ralston told reporters after the final vote approving the maps last week, “I‘m assuming that there will be lawsuits filed galore, quickly, and that’s fine. There were last time and they were all dismissed.”


Tuesday is runoff day across the state for municipal elections, but the highest profile race in the decision Atlanta voters face is the mayoral contest between Andre Dickens and Felicia Moore.

AJC reporters J.D. Capelouto and Wilborn P. Nobles III recently embedded with the two candidates to provide behind-the-scenes looks at both of the campaigns in the final days of the race.

You can get up-to-speed on Moore, the front-runner coming out of Election Day, and Dickens, who hopes to build on post-election momentum and surge to a win, with a look at all of the AJC’s coverage of the race.


Speaking of Andre Dickens, the city councilman picked up several high-profile endorsements heading into the runoff’s final days.

Ahead of Thanksgiving, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis said she’s supporting Dickens. “To be a safer community, you have to attack crime on multiple levels. Mr. Dickens gets that,” she told the AJC.

U.S. Rep. Nikema Williams also said that she had voted for the city councilman.

Williams wrote that Dickens’ work to create the city’s first Department of Transportation, along with his efforts to create the John Lewis Memorial Task Force, were part of her decision to support him for mayor.

It’s been quite a journey for Williams and Dickens, who less than two years ago were on the short list of five among 131 applicants considered by the state Democratic Party to replace Lewis following his death, which Williams, of course, went on to do.


Congress will be back for work in Washington this week. The Washington Post has a look at what’s ahead, including a Friday deadline for either a partial government shutdown or a government funding extension.

Punchbowl News calls the busy month ahead for the House and Senate, “a complete nightmare.”

In the meantime, the Georgia General Assembly has adjourned sine die until the January legislative session begins.


In case you missed it, former Lt. Gov. Pierre Howard was the subject of Sunday’s Political Insider column, when he talked about his newish hobby chasing butterflies, a pastime he picked up after leaving the Capitol behind for, literally, greener pastures.


NBC News has a feature on a group of young people who may be familiar to state lawmakers. The newly formed Georgia Youth Justice Coalition has trained dozens of progressive teenaged activists and sent several of its members to testify at state redistricting hearings.

After that process was done, they also testified against state Sen. Clint Dixon’s proposal to overhaul governance of the Gwinnett County Commission and Board of Education.

Although several said they’d wanted to get involved during the passage of Senate Bill 202 earlier this year, the redistricting session was the perfect opportunity to get in front of state lawmakers.

“It was actually much easier to get involved than during the normal legislative session. We didn’t have to skip school to testify.”


The prize awarded annually to the winner of the annual Georgia-Georgia Tech match-up each year is called the Governor’s Cup. But this year, Gov. Brian Kemp had a substitute making the play for him in the locker room.

Kemp skipped the game this year as he fought an illness, we’re told. Instead, Attorney General Chris Carr - a UGA graduate and die-hard Georgia fan like the governor – presented the trophy in the Bulldogs’ locker room on Saturday.


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