On Thursday, a federal judge in Georgia endorsed the state’s new Republican-drawn congressional maps, which notably include the addition of a majority-Black district, bolstering the GOP’s position in the state. This ruling is seen as a significant victory for Georgia’s Republicans in their effort to maintain their majority.
Judge Steve C. Jones of the U.S. District Court confirmed the approval of these maps in a 15-page order. He acknowledged that the Georgia General Assembly had adhered to his previous directive from October to establish a majority-Black congressional district in western metro Atlanta.
These redrawn maps have significant implications, particularly for Rep. Lucy McBath (D-Ga.). Her district in northeast Atlanta is now split among neighboring areas and shifted to a more rural region, a move that is likely to favor Republican representation. Consequently, this redistricting is expected to help the GOP keep their 9-5 lead in House representation.
The new district layout also introduces a fresh western Atlanta district, encompassing parts of Fulton, Douglas, and Cobb counties, predominantly Black according to the court documents.
This redrawing of the congressional maps in Georgia is a response to Judge Jones’s October decision. He had previously declared the state’s congressional and legislative maps invalid, citing their violation of the Voting Rights Act by undermining the voting power of Black citizens in Georgia. The state legislature was given until December 8 to devise new boundaries.
Despite some opposition from Democrats and voting rights advocates, who claimed that the new maps did not fully comply with Jones’s mandate to create a new Black-majority district without reducing minority representation elsewhere, Judge Jones affirmed his ruling. He clarified that his judicial role does not extend to making legislative policy decisions, even if such choices might seem inadvisable.
The issue of congressional mapping has been a contentious one across various states, including New York, Wisconsin, and Alabama. These redistricting battles are likely to play a significant role in the upcoming 2024 elections. Notably, in October, a panel of federal judges sanctioned a new congressional map for Alabama, which retained the state’s single majority-Black district and nearly added a second, potentially increasing the Democrats’ chances of securing a Senate seat.