(The Center Square) – Redrawing congressional and state legislative maps will be the order of business for Georgia lawmakers when they return to a special session Nov. 29.
It’s necessary because U.S. District Judge Steve C. Jones ruled they violated the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Gov. Brian Kemp set the date to convene; Jones set a Dec. 8 deadline for the new maps to be done.
“Redistricting is a critical process that shapes the future of our democracy, ensuring fair and equal representation for all Georgia citizens,” state Rep. Carl Gilliard, D-Savannah, chairman of the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus, said in a statement. “It is essential that this process is conducted impartially, transparently and in a way that safeguards the rights of all communities. We believe that every vote and voice must be protected, and it is our duty to ensure the redistricting process is carried with upmost fairness and integrity.”
Republicans framed the decision as a ruling handed down by a left-leaning judge.
“Whether the Left’s machine is working to put conservatives in jail or toss out legitimate electoral maps, lawfare is their new campaign strategy,” Greater Georgia Chairwoman Kelly Loeffler said in a statement.
The former U.S. senator, a Republican, said the ruling by the justice appointed by former President Barack Obama “is a disappointing but unsurprising victory for liberal activists attempting to interfere in next year’s elections.”
In his ruling, Jones indicated the remedy includes an additional majority-Black congressional district, two additional majority-Black state Senate districts and five additional majority-Black state House districts.
A spokeswoman for Attorney General Chris Carr told The Center Square the office is reviewing the order.
While in session, the state Senate will also confirm appointments Kemp, a Republican, made since lawmakers adjourned on March 30. Lawmakers will ratify a pair of executive orders Kemp issued suspending the gas tax.
Kemp cited a Georgia statute giving the governor the authority to suspend the collection of state motor fuel taxes during a declared state of emergency, “subject to ratification by the General Assembly at its next meeting.” A spokesman for Kemp previously told The Center Square no General Assembly members “have indicated any opposition to once again ratify the suspension once they return to session.”