Racial Gerrymandering

Voting Rights Attorneys Serving the Atlanta Area

The Constitution includes the requirement of one person, one vote. It is impermissible to use race in redistricting under many circumstances. If you are concerned about racial gerrymandering in Georgia, you should not hesitate to consult an Atlanta voting rights lawyer at Parks, Chesin & Walbert. We can evaluate whether you may have a claim.

Racial Gerrymandering

The Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment prohibits racial gerrymandering. Racial gerrymandering exists when citizens are intentionally and improperly assigned to a particular electoral district based on race without enough justification. The government is not allowed to separate citizens into different voting districts if race is the predominant factor in this separation.

There is a presumption of legislative good faith, and a court will only take a close look if this presumption is overcome. To trigger strict scrutiny, racial gerrymandering claims require plaintiffs to show that race was the predominant factor motivating the legislature’s choice to put a significant number of voters inside or outside a specific district. Plaintiffs can make this showing by presenting circumstantial evidence about the shape of the district and demographics, or they can make this showing by using direct evidence about the legislative purpose for the districting.

A plaintiff needs to be able to show that other factors like partisan advantage, compactness, and respect for political subdivisions were subordinated to racial considerations. The test to determine whether race drove a district’s lines is satisfied if the legislature put a notable number of voters inside a district due to their racial background, irrespective of the legislature’s objective in doing this. Sorting voters based on their race is suspicious even if race is intended to work as a proxy for another characteristic.

In order to survive strict scrutiny with regard to a redistricting plan with mostly racial considerations, the government has the burden to show that the racial sorting of voters serves a compelling interest and is narrowly drawn to suit that interest.

The Federal Voting Rights Act

Race can be considered under the Equal Protection Clause if the government has good reasons to believe that its decision is necessary for compliance with the Voting Rights Act and if that decision is narrowly fashioned. However, an electoral district may violate the Voting Rights Act if its lines dilute the votes of members of a minority group, given the totality of the circumstances.

Whether a vote dilution claim is brought or the Voting Rights Act is positioned as a defense to racial gerrymandering requires an analysis of three factors. There must be a geographically compact minority population that is enough to constitute a majority in a single member district, there must be political cohesion among the minority group’s members, and the majority must vote in a bloc to defeat the preferred candidate of the minority. These showings must be made to prove that the minority would have the ability to elect a representative of their choosing in a single-member district and that the districting prevents this vote by submerging it into the vote of the larger white population. Only if a voting rights attorney can establish that these three factors are present can a remedy be obtained.

It is possible for jurisdictions to consider race when drawing election districts. However, there needs to be a strong reason if racial considerations take precedence over traditional considerations. Race may be considered for the purpose of fixing a Voting Rights Act Section 2 violation. In that case, however, traditional principles are not supposed to be compromised more than what is needed to fix the violation.

Seek Representation from an Atlanta Lawyer After a Voting Rights Violation

Our firm has represented clients across the political spectrum in connection with racial gerrymandering, as well as other voting rights claims. We have a reputation for innovative approaches to legal problems. Whether you are looking for legal counsel or representation in litigation, call us and let one of our skillful constitutional law attorneys look at your case. We represent clients in Atlanta and throughout Fulton, DeKalb, Gwinnett, Forsyth, and Glynn Counties. Call us at 404-873-8048 or complete our online form.

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