Posted on October 3, 2017

Holder-Led Group Challenges Georgia Redistricting, Claiming Racial Bias

Alexander Burns, New York Times, October 3, 2017

A Democratic group led by the former attorney general Eric H. Holder Jr. has accused the State of Georgia of flouting the Voting Rights Act, claiming that Georgia Republicans reshaped two state legislative districts to minimize the electoral influence of African-American voters.

Mr. Holder’s group, the National Redistricting Foundation, is expected to file suit in Federal District Court in Atlanta on Tuesday. The complaint charges that race was the “predominant factor” in adjusting two districts — the 105th and 111th — in the Atlanta area where white lawmakers had faced spirited challenges from black Democrats.

Both districts were drawn in 2015, through an unusually timed redistricting law that the lawsuit claims violated the Voting Rights Act and the Fourteenth Amendment.

Mr. Holder said Georgia’s district map was a “particularly egregious” case of racial gerrymandering, aimed at restraining the political clout of Atlanta and its suburbs. With the redistricting measure, Mr. Holder said, Republicans had brought about the “silencing of the state’s approximately three million or so African-American residents.”

The Atlanta area, Mr. Holder said, is “becoming a lot more competitive, and they, through this mid-cycle redistricting, made the determination that this was something that was threatening to them.”

The lawsuit will also assert that Republicans improperly failed to draw a legislative district in the Atlanta area that would have been likely to elect a black candidate. It asks the court to invalidate the legislative districts and mandate the creation of “at least one additional majority-minority district in the Atlanta metropolitan area.”

Republicans have typically defended themselves against claims like Mr. Holder’s by insisting that the redistricting was conducted with partisan motives in mind, rather than racial ones. The Supreme Court will hear arguments on Tuesday in a Wisconsin case that may determine whether there are legal limits on partisan gerrymandering.