Georgia’s gerrymandering issues were recently examined by a federal court. The panel of judges ruled Georgia can continue using current district lines pending the outcome of a lawsuit alleging racial gerrymandering in two state House districts. The federal lawsuit says the Republican-led legislature unconstitutionally drew the metro Atlanta districts in 2015 to increase the percentage of white voters and decrease the percentage of black voters. The majority opinion issued in June by a three-judge panel calls the evidence raised in the lawsuit “compelling” but says it falls short of documenting intent to depress black voter strength. For that reason, the opinion says, it’s not appropriate to issue a preliminary injunction to keep the redrawn boundaries from being used while the lawsuit is pending.
The Georgia Constitution says electoral districts should be adjusted as needed following each census. Georgia lawmakers redrew the state House districts in 2011 and further modified them in 2012. Both of those plans were approved by the U.S. Department of Justice in accordance with the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
In 2014, two white Republicans, Joyce Chandler in Gwinnett County and Brian Strickland in Henry County, were narrowly re-elected over black Democratic challengers. Both approached the Georgia Legislative and Congressional Reapportionment Office and the chair of the House Reapportionment Committee, to discuss redrawing their districts to increase their chances of re-election, the opinion says.