Georgia GOP Approves New House Map Maintaining Republican Advantage Amid Debate on Minority Representation

Georgia GOP Passes New U.S. House Map Preserving Electoral Advantage

Republican lawmakers in Georgia have approved a new U.S. House map that aims to maintain their electoral edge following a federal judge’s decision to invalidate the state’s previous map.

The Georgia House of Representatives voted 98-71 during a special session, giving the final nod to a redistricting proposal that solidifies Republicans’ dominance in nine of the state’s 14 U.S. House seats. The map now awaits approval from Republican Governor Brian Kemp.

The decision to revise the map came after U.S. District Judge Steve Jones ruled that the previous Congressional map violated the Voting Rights Act by diluting the votes of black citizens. Judge Jones, an appointee of President Barack Obama, ordered Georgia to create a new majority-black U.S. congressional district west of Atlanta without eliminating minority opportunity districts elsewhere.

The new Republican map fulfills the requirement by creating a majority-black U.S. congressional district west of Atlanta. However, it effectively eliminates the existing minority-heavy 7th U.S. Congressional District represented by U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath, a Democrat.

The matter is far from settled, as the lawyers for the state and those who challenged the previous GOP-drawn maps will have to make their case before Judge Jones on Dec. 20 to demonstrate compliance with the court’s order.

In the new Republican proposal, parts of Ms. McBath’s current district in suburban Gwinnett and Fulton counties were shifted into a district held by Republican U.S. Rep. Rich McCormick. As per the latest U.S. census data, District 7 does not have a racial majority, with non-Hispanic white people making up about 40% of the district, black people about 20%, Asians about 15%, and Hispanic people about 19%.

State Republicans argue that the term “minority opportunity district” doesn’t clearly apply to districts without a racial majority but rather a “coalition” of multiple racial minorities.

Opponents of the new map argue that a racial “coalition” does qualify as a “minority opportunity district” and that the way Republicans reshaped District 7 goes against Judge Jones’ order.

If Judge Jones rejects the new map, he could order a special master to redraw the map for the court instead.

Regardless of the ultimate outcome, Ms. McBath has stated that she is prepared to fight to retain her seat in Congress, saying, “I intend to come back to Washington.”

This article includes contributions from The Associated Press.

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