Georgia Republicans move to cut losses as they propose majority-Black districts in Special Session

Georgia lawmakers will open a Special Session Wednesday as majority Republicans move to minimize their losses while also trying to increase the number of Black-majority districts to comply with a federal court order.

It’s one in a series of redistricting sessions across the South after the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the 1964 Voting Rights Act, clearing the way for Black voters to win changes from courts.

Georgia House Republicans on Tuesday released a map that would likely cost them only two seats from their current 102-78 majority while creating five more majority-Black districts that Democrats would be likely to win. That’s because the map would also pair three sets of Democratic incumbents, meaning Democrats would lose three of those members after 2024 elections.

And Senate Republicans could improve on that performance — the map they proposed on Monday creates two additional Black-majority voting districts, but would probably retain the GOP’s current 33-23 edge in the upper chamber.

Still to come is a new congressional map, where lawmakers have been ordered to draw one new Black-majority seat. Republicans currently hold a 9-5 edge in Georgia’s congressional delegation. To try to hold that margin, they’d have to dissolve the only congressional district held by a Democrat that’s not majority-Black, Lucy McBath’s 7th District in the Atlanta suburbs of Gwinnett and Fulton counties.

It’s unclear if that would be legal. U.S. District Judge Steve Jones wrote in his order that Georgia can’t fix its problems “by eliminating minority opportunity districts elsewhere.”

Jones in October ordered Georgia to draw Black majorities in the additional districts, finding that current maps drawn by Republicans after the 2020 Census illegally diluted Black votes. That ruling came after a trial when plaintiffs argued that opportunities for Black voters hadn’t increased even though their share of population increased in the state over the previous decade.

“There had been truly massive levels of black population growth and change and yet there was no increase in the number of black majority districts,” said Ari Savitzky, an American Civil Liberties Union lawyer who represents some of the plaintiffs.

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