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2-11-04 Federal Judges Overturn GA Legislative Maps

Judges Order General Assembly to Redraw Lines by March 1

The Georgia Report


February 10, 2004

Judges overturn legislative maps

By Tom Crawford

A three-judge federal panel in Atlanta on Tuesday overturned Georgia’s House and Senate legislative districts on the grounds that they violate the "one person, one vote" standard, a court order that would require new maps to be drawn.

 GA House District Oconee & NEGA

  GA Senate Districts

The ruling by U.S. Circuit Judge Stanley Marcus, U.S. District Judge Charles Pannell and Senior U.S. District Judge William C. O’Kelley threw out legislative redistricting plans adopted by the Democratic majority in the General Assembly in 2001 and 2002.

Unless their ruling is overturned on appeal, Georgia’s 180 House and 56 Senate districts will have to be redrawn, a task that could throw the remainder of this year’s Legislative session into a gridlock between the two parties. Republicans hold a majority in the Senate, while Democrats have a majority in the House.

The lawsuit, which was filed by a group of Republican legislators and activists a year ago, attacked legislative maps on a variety of grounds, including an allegation that the population deviations between some of the districts violated the "one person, one vote" principle.

The three-judge panel rejected arguments that the redistricting plans amounted to racial gerrymandering, but ruled in the Republicans’ favor on the population deviation issue. They also rejected arguments that Georgia’s congressional districts violate the "one person, one vote" principle.

The judges ordered the General Assembly to redraw and adopt new House and Senate redistricting plans by March 1.


AVOC COMMENT:  This could be great news for local communities in Georgia.  The 2001 Georgia redistricting was blatantly partisan and cut across county, city and community boundaries to find pockets of voters with certain profiles.

It is probably too much too hope for but it would be good if the Legislature would let the computers draw more compact districts without regard to political parties.  It would help balance political interests in districts.  Maybe we would have less extremists on both sides of the aisles in Atlanta.

If the Legislature is smart, it will try to do the job rather than leave it to the courts.  However, the courts could not be much worse than the “mess” created by Roy Barnes & Company!

Let’s redraw the lines as soon as possible!

Wendell Dawson, AVOC Editor


Article on Court Order Continued………

"We urge the General Assembly to use this opportunity to adopt new plans," the judges said. "The Supreme Court has repeatedly held that the business of ‘redistricting and reapportioning legislative bodies is a legislative function which the federal courts should make every effort not to preempt.’"

If new redistricting plans have not been adopted by March 1, the Republican plaintiffs can petition the judges to draw an interim redistricting plan for use in this year’s elections.

© 2004 by Capitolimpact.com