“Georgia redistricting challenges protections of multiracial coalitions”


As soon as Georgia’s redrawn political boundaries pass this week, the new maps will likely spark court challenges that could weaken nationwide protections against discrimination in districts where Black voters and other racial groups together make up a majority.

The Republican-drawn maps reduce those kinds of multiracial “coalition districts” in Georgia, instead dividing the state into Black-and-white political boundaries.

Without coalition districts, combined numbers of Black, Hispanic and Asian voters wouldn’t necessarily justify legal protections against racial discrimination under the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Meanwhile, Georgia’s Republican-proposed districts preserve white representation by sorting voters in a way that protects the GOP’s 9-5 advantage in the state’s congressional delegation. White voters in Georgia usually support Republicans and Black voters overwhelmingly back Democrats.

The courts will wrestle with whether district lines illegally discriminate based on race or sort voters by their political preferences, which is allowed, said Doug Spencer, a University of Colorado election law professor who manages the All About Redistricting website.

“It’s a huge threat to Voting Rights Act cases because you can claim you’re doing one thing when you’re doing something else,” Spencer said. “The Supreme Court has basically said the Voting Rights Act protects minority groups from having their vote diluted. They’ve never said one way or the other whether that minority group can be a combination or not.”…

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