A federal judge in Georgia has approved Republican-drawn congressional districts, ruling that they comply with the Constitution. The decision, handed down by Judge Steve Jones of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, was a victory for the Republican Party and Georgia’s governor, Brian Kemp.
The districts, drawn in 2019, had been challenged by civil rights groups and Democrats who claimed they would dilute the political power of minorities. They argued that they violated the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which prohibits discrimination in voting.
But Judge Jones disagreed, ruling that the redistricting was done for legitimate, non-racially motivated reasons. He also noted that the redistricting did not lead to a racial gerrymander that would make it harder for minorities to elect their preferred candidates.
The ruling is a setback for Democrats, who had hoped to make gains in the congressional elections this fall. It’s also likely to further entrench the Republican Party’s dominance in the state, as the districts give the party a clear advantage.
The ruling is just the latest chapter in a long battle over the politically-charged issue of redistricting. In recent years, the Supreme Court has weighed in on numerous cases involving redistricting, including three landmark decisions from 2019 and 2020. In those cases, the court has generally sided with Republican-drawn plans, though not always unanimously.
The decision in Georgia also comes as states across the country are gearing up for another round of redistricting following the 2020 census. This process, which will take place over the next few years, will be highly contentious and is likely to become further enmeshed in partisan politics.
For now, the ruling in Georgia will stand and give Republicans an edge in the 2022 elections. But the broader saga over redistricting is far from over, and it will continue to be a major influence in American politics for years to come.