Georgia Republicans approve new US House map, setting up fresh court battle

By Joseph Ax

(Reuters) – Republican lawmakers in Georgia on Thursday approved a new map of U.S. House of Representatives districts for the 2024 election that maintains their current 9-5 advantage while creating a court-ordered majority-Black district west of Atlanta.

In order to preserve Republicans’ statewide advantage, however, lawmakers dismantled a heavily minority district represented by Democratic U.S. Representative Lucy McBath, a move that Democrats said contravenes a federal judge’s ruling.

U.S. District Judge Steve Jones in October threw out the state’s old congressional map, finding it diluted Black voters’ power in violation of the Voting Rights Act, which prohibits racial discrimination in elections.

The ruling also said lawmakers could not remedy the problem “by eliminating minority districts elsewhere.”

Republicans have argued that the new map complies with the ruling because McBath’s seat, while mostly minority, is not a majority Black district.

The case is one of several that could help determine which party takes control of the House in next year’s congressional elections. Republicans hold a narrow 222-213 majority.

The state House of Representatives approved the map along party lines on Thursday, sending it to Republican Governor Brian Kemp for his signature. The state Senate passed the map earlier this week.

Jones will review the map at a Dec. 20 hearing. If he does not approve, he could appoint a special master to draw a new version that preserves McBath’s district while still adding a new majority-Black district, which would likely allow Democrats to flip a Republican seat.

(Reporting by Joseph Ax; Editing by Daniel Wallis)