A panel of federal judges ruled Tuesday that congressional maps in North Carolina were illegally drawn by state lawmakers to give Republicans an advantage in elections. GOP state legislators now have two weeks to redraw them.
In the meantime, the decision about partisan gerrymandering is likely to have implications for Georgia.
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Sara Henderson, executive director of the good-government group Common Cause Georgia, argues district maps in the Peach State also deserve scrutiny.
“There are all sorts of instances from both parties that have used their majority advantage to draw districts to protect incumbents, which is really what this is all about,” she said.
Henderson says the North Carolina case — which was brought by a different local chapter of Common Cause — has her group considering legal action against Georgia over its district maps.
She’s also watching cases before the U.S. Supreme Court this session that may set new legal standards for partisan gerrymandering.
Michael Kang, who studies redistricting at the Emory University School of Law, says the North Carolina case sends a message to state lawmakers all over the country, even if new gerrymandering lawsuits don’t abound.
“For the most part, whoever controlled state government thought they could gerrymander on a partisan basis. So I think that sort of license to do whatever you want in gerrymandering is put on hold,” he said.
Kang says the U.S. Supreme Court cases are also likely to have a chilling effect.
But there’s a ticking clock on any group that might want to sue Georgia over its districts. State lawmakers will redraw the maps in 2021 based on data from the 2020 census.