Federal Judge Orders New Majority-Black District In Georgia, Warns Legislature Not To Jerk Him Around

Judge Jones ordered one additional majority-Black congressional district and seven additional majority-Black legislative districts.
Georgia. Getty Image
Start your day with TPM.
Sign up for the Morning Memo newsletter

A federal judge in Georgia ordered a redraw of both the state’s congressional and legislative maps Thursday, mandating that one new majority-Black congressional district and seven majority-Black legislative districts be added.

In a 500-plus-page whopper of an opinion, U.S. District Judge Steve Jones ruled that the maps discriminated against Black voters in violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. He ordered the legislature to produce new compliant maps by Dec. 8. 

“This Court retains jurisdiction to determine whether the remedial plans adopted by the General Assembly remedy the Section 2 violations by incorporating additional legislative districts in which Black voters have a demonstrable opportunity to elect their candidates of choice,” he wrote. “In the event that the State is unable or unwilling to enact remedial plans by December 8, 2023 that satisfy the requirements set forth above, the Court will proceed to draw or adopt remedial plans.” 

Jones, an Obama appointee, warned the Georgia legislature not to jerk him around, explicitly stating that eliminating minority opportunity districts elsewhere in the state as it draws the new ones would not comply with his order. 

He also included a preemptive rebuttal to any whining from the legislators — or the Supreme Court — that the deadline doesn’t provide enough time to both produce the new maps and give election administrators a chance to adjust to them before the November 2024 elections. 

“The Court is confident that the General Assembly can accomplish its task by December 8, 2023: the General Assembly enacted the Plans quickly in 2021; the Legislature has been on notice since at least the time that this litigation was commenced nearly 22 months ago that new maps might be necessary; the General Assembly already has access to an experienced cartographer; and the General Assembly has an illustrative remedial plan to consult,” he wrote.

He also cited the Purcell principle, seemingly trying to dissuade the high court from using its favorite, inconsistently applied theory about when is too close to an election to change election and voting laws. He wrote that “temporal concerns are not at issue,” given that the elections are over a year away. 

Jones is the same judge who, in recent weeks, received some national attention for handling attempts by defendants in Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis’ Georgia RICO case to remove their prosecutions to federal court. 

This redistricting case in Georgia — alongside similar ones in states including Alabama and Louisiana — will have significant bearing on the 2024 race for the House of Representatives majority. With Republicans only controlling the chamber by a slim margin, a handful of new court-ordered majority-Black districts, which will almost certainly elect Democrats, will reduce Republicans’ artificial advantage. 

Those cases are all the more politically critical given the maps produced Wednesday by the North Carolina legislature, which would make three seats currently held by Democrats near-certain Republican flips, and a fourth a more Republican friendly tossup. Litigation is sure to follow, though the heavily conservative U.S. Supreme Court would likely be the only shot at salvation, as the North Carolina Supreme Court — which became very right-wing after the 2022 elections — reversed a less than one-year-old decision from its more liberal successor in April, allowing the legislature’s aggressively gerrymandered maps to stand. 

Read Jones’ ruling here:

Latest News

Notable Replies

  1. Those cases are all the more politically critical given the maps produced Wednesday by the North Carolina legislature, which would make three seats currently held by Democrats near-certain Republican flips, and a fourth a more Republican friendly tossup.

    For me, it calls up associations to the end of Reconstruction and the institutionalization of white domination.
    And, yes, I think the contemporary GQP wants to go there.

  2. If any of these elections were truly fair, countrywide, the GOP would be out of business.

    A few holy rollers and some born-rich pricks.

  3. Good on Judge Jones. One state at a time.

  4. Avatar for tpr tpr says:

    The Judge Jones Method:

    1. Grab feet
    2. Hold directly to fire

    Similar to KBJ’s recent concurrence in that Louisiana voting case, pre-empting attempts by hostile legislatures to win through delay what they lost in court.

    I hope this trend continues. Evaluating democracy by outcomes too, rather than just procedure or even substance.

  5. This ruling is a stark reminder to anyone who cares that votes matter, and whining “but her emails” has seen judges like Steve Jones having to carry way more of the load for democracy than they should. It’s good that he was so thorough in his order and showing remedies for the obvious stalling tactics he expects it to face, but we’re in this mess because of the blatant and irresponsible court-stacking perpetrated by McConnell and everyone who backed his sleazy power play that, incidentally, happened to benefit tfg. We need to set aside petty squabbles and march in one direction for 2024. I don’t know if I’ll still be alive for the 2028 election, but my kids and grandkids will, and they and all the other decent people in their age groups better step up and fight now for the world they’ll be living in.

Continue the discussion at forums.talkingpointsmemo.com

14 more replies


Avatar for discobot Avatar for xpurg8d Avatar for tecmage Avatar for generalsternwood Avatar for texastwostep Avatar for isakindamagic Avatar for tiowally Avatar for fuashcroft Avatar for tpr Avatar for grants Avatar for PacificSparkles Avatar for bcgister Avatar for n_b Avatar for old_guru

Continue Discussion
Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Associate Editor:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Associate Publisher:
Front End Developer:
Senior Designer: