Tennessee Senate maps ruled unconstitutional

Published 10:16 am Wednesday, November 29, 2023

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A Tennessee court ruled Wednesday afternoon that Republican-drawn state Senate maps are unconstitutional, giving the General Assembly until Jan. 31 to adopt new maps.

“Today’s court ruling against the gerrymandered state Senate map is a clear win for the Tennessee Constitution. Even when a political party has a supermajority in the Legislature, its members must still follow the law,” Senate Minority Leader Sen. Raumesh Akbari and Democratic Caucus Chairwoman Sen. London Lamar said in a joint statement Wednesday. “In the days ahead, Senate Democrats will once again be advocating for a fair map and transparent process that keeps communities whole and reflects who we are as a state.”

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The same court ruled House maps are constitutional and dismissed that part of the lawsuit with prejudice.

In August, several Tennessee groups filed a lawsuit challenging the state’s congressional and state redistricting maps that went into effect in 2022.

The complaint stated the maps are unconstitutional racial gerrymanders that violate the 14th and 15th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution by intentionally diluting the votes of Black voters and voters of other colors by dividing Nashville and Davidson County into three congressional districts.

In June, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Alabama’s new congressional district map diminished the impact of Black voters, which violates the Voting Rights Act, specifically Article 2, which prohibits voting procedures that discriminate based on race.

The Tennessee lawsuit was filed by the League of Women Voters of Tennessee; Tennessee State Conference of the NAACP; the African American Clergy Collective of Tennessee; the Equity Alliance; the Memphis A. Philip Randolph Institute; and individual voters Judy Cummings, Brenda Gilmore, Ophelia Doe, Freda Player and Ruby Powell-Dennis.