Tennessee Court Temporarily Blocks Law That Cuts Nashville Metro Council in Half

WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Monday, April 10, a three-judge panel of a Tennessee court temporarily blocked portions of a newly enacted, anti-democratic law, House Bill 48, that forces Nashville to reduce the size of its Metro Council by half — from 40 to 20 members — and to draw new council districts within the next month. This order stems from a consolidated lawsuit filed by the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County and community leaders arguing that H.B. 48 violates the multiple provisions of the Tennessee Constitution. 

In today’s order blocking the enforcement of H.B. 48 as litigation proceeds, the court held that “the implementation of the Act and its reduction provisions at this late date results in upheaval of the election process, risks voter confusion, and potentially” compromises “the integrity of Davidson County’s August 3, 2023 general election.” The opinion further noted that the challenged law’s May 1 deadline by which new council districts must be implemented “imposes an unreasonable timetable, only allowing the Metropolitan Council and the Metropolitan Planning Commission roughly six weeks to both reduce the size of the Council, determine the number and allocation of Council districts, and draw the new, enlarged district boundary maps.” Notably, the court did not grant the individual plaintiffs’ requested relief since they lack standing (meaning capacity to sue). 

This pro-democracy ruling came down just before the Nashville Metro Council voted to send recently expelled state Rep. Justin Jones (D) back to the Tennessee General Assembly. During the meeting, Councilmember Delishia Porterfield declared the injunction a victory, stating: “Not even an hour ago, we learned that we were victorious in being granted an injunction against the state’s unconstitutional effort of downsizing our council against the will of the people. And just as the people of Nashville were victorious today, we will be victorious again.”

Read the order here.

Learn more about the case here.