Civil rights lawyers have asked a federal judge to block what they call “extreme racial gerrymandering” by the Georgia House of Representatives in an attempt to hold on to a Republican majority in the 2018 elections.
The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law in Washington, D.C., filed a motion for a preliminary injunction late Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia seeking an expedited hearing in advance of the 2018 elections.
The Georgia NAACP is the first named plaintiff in the underlying lawsuit against Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp alleging that the Georgia House of Representatives redrew district lines to protect white Republican incumbents and dilute the voting power of minorities in metro Atlanta districts with changing demographics. The suit alleges the lawmakers used race as a proxy for Democratic leanings among voters.
“The Georgia NAACP will not abide by the 2018 election being conducted under racially gerrymandered district boundary lines,” organization President Phyllis Blake said in a news release issued by lawyers Wednesday. “The right to vote rings hollow if elections are held in districts tailor-made to ensure that incumbents are reelected.”
Kemp’s office referred an inquiry about the matter to Attorney General Chris Carr. Carr’s communications director said the office cannot comment on pending litigation.
“Georgia’s mid-decade redistricting is an egregious example of the kind of racial gerrymandering that has no place in our democracy today,” Kristen Clarke, executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, said in Wednesday’s release. The group has filed similar litigation in Pennsylvania.
“In swing districts where margins of victory were close, Georgia lawmakers reopened legislative maps for the sole purpose of locking in favored non-minority incumbents,” Clarke added. “Georgia is a place that provides a textbook example of the kind of the unlawful racial gerrymandering that infects too many states today. Our action seeks to fight back against the unlawful actions of Georgia legislators who have put their thumb on the scale of democracy at the expense of minority voters.”