Court Rejects Attempts to Dismiss Georgia Redistricting Lawsuits

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, a federal judge in Georgia rejected attempts to dismiss ongoing lawsuits challenging the state’s new congressional and legislative maps. Five cases were filed against the maps soon after they were enacted in late December. The defendant in the cases, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R), sought to dismiss three cases seeking a preliminary injunction to block the maps’ use for the next election cycle: Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. v. Raffensperger (challenging new legislative districts), Pendergrass v. Raffensperger (challenging new congressional districts) and Grant v. Raffensperger (challenging new legislative districts). The cases argue that the new state and federal districts violate Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) by diluting the voting strength of Georgians of color, particularly Black Georgians, and denying these voters an equal chance to participate in the political process.

Today, the court denied each motion to dismiss in the three cases, allowing the cases to move forward. The court first rejected the defendant’s argument that the plaintiffs needed to request a three-judge court — reserved in redistricting lawsuits for constitutional claims — and their failure to do so means that the single judge does not have jurisdiction to hear the case. The judge highlighted that the cases each only allege VRA violations, not constitutional claims, and the law “does not require a plaintiff to request a three-judge court to hear purely statutory challenges to the apportionment.” Second, the court rejected the defendant’s argument that, even if the case is properly before one judge rather than three, Section 2 of the VRA did not create a private right of action, meaning that individuals do not have a right to sue under it. The court flatly dismissed this claim, writing that the plaintiffs “can assert these claims because for the past forty-five years the Supreme Court and lower courts have allowed private individuals to assert challenges under Section 2 of the VRA.” The three cases also have pending motions for preliminary injunctions before the court and a hearing is scheduled to begin on Feb. 7.

Read the order in Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. v. Raffensperger here.

Read the order in Pendergrass v. Raffensperger here.

Read the order in Grant v. Raffensperger here.