Court locks in Georgia's new map that draws Rep. Lucy McBath out of her districtDecember 28, 2023
A federal judge on Thursday approved a new congressional map in Georgia, which maintains the overall partisan split of the state’s congressional delegation. It also imperils Rep. Lucy McBath, who was drawn out of her congressional district.
District Judge Steve C. Jones, an appointee of President Barack Obama, signed off on lines drawn by the GOP-controlled legislature earlier this month. Jones had previously tossed the lines used in the 2022 elections for violating the Voting Rights Act by diluting the power of Black voters in the state, ordering the state to draw more districts where Black voters can elect candidates of their choosing.
Both the map used in the 2022 elections and the one approved by Jones on Thursday would ultimately result in the same partisan split: Republicans are favored to hold nine seats and Democrats five.
The new map includes five congressional districts where Black voters made up a majority or near-majority, up from the previous map’s four, creating a new majority Black district to the west of Atlanta.
But McBath’s former district, to the city’s northeast, was not a majority Black district. Georgia Republicans dismantled her “coalition district,” (which created a majority-minority district through a combination of Black, Latino and Asian voters), to create the new majority Black district.
Democrats contended the Republicans’ efforts to redraw the map by dismantling that coalition district also violated the Voting Rights Act and didn’t comply with the court’s orders, and urged the court to block it. Jones declined to do so on Thursday.
“The Court finds that the General Assembly fully complied with this Court’s order requiring the creation of a majority-Black congressional district,” he wrote in his order. Notably, Jones did not rule on if the elimination of the coalition district violated the Voting Rights Act — but wrote that if Democrats wanted to bring that claim, it would be “better suited for a separate case.”
Democrats will almost assuredly pursue that separate claim, either on appeal or in a distinct lawsuit. But Jones’ decision Thursday means the new maps will likely be used for at least the 2024 elections in the state.
In a statement shortly after Thursday’s court order, McBath said she would run in that new majority Black district west of Atlanta.
“I hope that the judicial system will not allow the state legislature to suppress the will of Georgia voters. However, if the maps passed by the state legislature stand for the 2024 election cycle, I will be running for re-election to Congress” in the new 6th District, she said.