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Redistricting Litigation Roundup

A look at legal cases around the country challenging newly adopted redistricting plans.

Last Updated: October 12, 2022
Published: December 20, 2021
Maps of Alabama's redistricting plans
Maps of Alabama's House and Senate redistricting plans (Source: Associated Press)

As of November 18, 2022, a total of 72 cases have been filed challenging congressional and legislative maps in 26 states as racially discriminatory and/or partisan gerrymanders, of which 47 remain pending at either the trial or appellate levels. 

Litigation resulted in orders from state courts to redraw legislative and/or congressional maps in Alaska, Maryland, New York, North Carolina, and Ohio for the 2022 election cycle.

In addition, South Carolina has agreed to amend its new state house map without a court order, but that revised map will not take effect until 2024. Federal courts also ordered a redraw of Alabama’s and Louisiana’s congressional maps, but the Supreme Court stayed those judgements pending appeal.

 

Alabama

Racial discrimination

Congressional: Three cases have been filed in federal court by Black voters and civil rights organizations, contending that the new congressional map enacted by the Republican-controlled Alabama legislature is racially discriminatory in violation of the U.S. Constitution and/or Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.

The suits allege that the map intentionally perpetuates a long history of discrimination against Black voters by packing a large segment of Black voters into a single heavily Black congressional district and cracking the remaining voters among multiple districts, thereby diluting Black political power. Under the map, Black voters have the opportunity to elect a candidate of choice in only one of seven districts (14 percent of districts) despite making up around 27 percent of the state’s voting age population. All three cases ask the court to require that Alabama create a second Black opportunity congressional district.  

The cases are Caster v. Merrill, No. 2:21-CV-1536 (N.D. Ala. Nov. 16, 2021), Milligan v. Merrill, No. 2:21-CV-1530 (N.D. Ala. Nov. 16, 2021), and Singleton v. Merrill, No. 2:21-CV-1291 (N.D. Ala. Sept. 27, 2021).

On January 24, 2022, a three-judge panel in Milligan and Singleton preliminarily enjoined Alabama’s new congressional map, finding that the map is substantially likely to violate Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. Although the panel provided the Alabama legislature an opportunity to redraw the map, it observed that, given the evidence in the record of “intensely racially polarized voting[,]” the legislature will need to redraw the map with a second Black opportunity district. Caster, which is presided over by a single judge who is also a member of the Milligan/Singleton panel, received a similar ruling.

On February 7, 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court stayed the lower-court judgments pending appeal.

Legislative: A lawsuit by Black voters and two civil rights organizations, Thomas v. Merrill, No. 2:21-CV-1531 (N.D. Ala. Nov. 16, 2021), contends that Alabama’s new legislative maps violate the U.S. Constitution by “us[ing] race as a means to maintain power through the packing and cracking of Black voters[.]” The plaintiffs additionally allege that the Senate map violates Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act because the Alabama legislature failed to create another Black opportunity district in Montgomery. All told, the plaintiffs ask the court to compel the redrawing of 12 state senate districts and 21 state house districts.

Alaska

Racial discrimination and partisan gerrymandering

Legislative: Five state-court lawsuits filed by Alaska voters, various boroughs, a municipality, and a regional corporation contend that Alaska’s new legislative maps racially discriminate and are a partisan gerrymander in violation of the U.S. Constitution, Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, and/or the Alaska Constitution. The suits allege that the maps intentionally dilute the voting power of those who live within Alaska’s lowest-income and most racially diverse parts of the state by pairing groups of voters in Anchorage, Valdez, Skagway, Calista, Matanuska-Susitna, and the surrounding areas that have little in common. According to the plaintiffs, to split communities of interest, the Alaska Redistricting Board, which consists entirely of Republicans, drew district lines that are irrational and arbitrary. As an example, a Valdez citizen must drive over 120 miles after leaving the boundary of his or her house district, which is about ten miles from Valdez’s municipal boundary, in order to re-enter the citizen’s own district.

The cases are Skagway Borough v. The Alaska Redistricting Board, No. 1JU-21–00944CI (Alaska Super. Ct. Dec. 13, 2021), City of Valdez v. Alaska Redistricting Board, No. 3VA-21–00080CI (Alaska Super. Ct. Dec. 10, 2021), Calista Corporation v. Alaska Redistricting Board, No. 4BE-21–00372CI (Alaska Super. Ct. Dec. 10, 2021), Wilson v. Alaska Redistricting Board, No. 3AN-21–08869CI (Alaska Super. Ct. Dec. 9, 2021), and Matanuska-Susitna Borough v. Alaska Redistricting Board, No. 3PA-21–02397CI (Alaska Super. Ct. Dec. 2, 2021).

On February 15, 2022, a trial court held that the board violated the Alaska Constitution when drawing the new legislative maps, finding that the board failed to take public testimony into account when drafting House Districts 3 and 4 and state Senate District K, failed to follow proper procedures when adopting the senate map, and intentionally discriminated against East Anchorage residents who do not always favor Republicans when drawing Senate District K.

On March 25, 2022, the Alaska Supreme Court partly affirmed the decision of the trial court, concluding that Senate District K is in fact a partisan gerrymander. It reversed the trial court’s determination that the board did not adequately take public testimony into account when creating House Districts 3 and 4. It also reversed the trial court’s holding that House District 36 passes constitutional muster since there is no adequate justification for the district’s noncompact shape.

The board enacted a revised legislative plan on April 13, 2022. Several plaintiffs from the original lawsuits as well as plaintiffs who intervened after the Alaska Supreme Court rendered its ruling objected before the trial court, arguing that the revised state senate plan is also a partisan gerrymander because it unconstitutionally increases Republican representation within the senate by splitting a suburb of Anchorage into two districts.

On May 16, 2022, a trial court agreed with the objectors and held that the revised state senate map also is a partisan gerrymander in violation of the Alaska Constitution, finding that the board intentionally discriminated against Anchorage residents by creating two safe Republican senate seats within the region. The court implemented an interim map for the 2022 election cycle but remanded the matter back to the board to adopt a remedial map for the rest of the decade.

On May 24, 2022, the Alaska Supreme Court denied the board’s appeal as to whether it once again gerrymandered the senate map, upholding the trial court’s order implementing an interim senate plan for the 2022 election cycle. The Court, however, stayed the lower court’s order that the board enact a revised plan for the balance of the decade.

Arkansas

Racial discrimination and partisan gerrymandering

Congressional: Two cases filed by Black voters (one in state court and one in federal court) contend that the new congressional map enacted by the Arkansas legislature is racially discriminatory and a partisan gerrymander in violation of the U.S. Constitution, Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, and/or the Arkansas Constitution.

The suits allege that the new map intentionally dilutes the voting power of Arkansas’s Black citizens through the cracking of Black voters residing in AR-2 among multiple districts. AR-2, which includes Little Rock, is the only competitive district in the state for Black voters. In the 2020 election, a Black Democrat running to represent AR-2 received 44.6 percent of the votes to the GOP incumbent’s 55.3 percent.

The cases are Suttlar v. Thurston, No. 60CV-22–1849 (Ark. Cir. Ct. Mar. 21, 2022), and Simpson v. Hutchinson, No. 4:22-CV-213 (E.D. Ark. Mar. 7, 2022).

On April 22, 2022, the Suttlar defendants removed the case to federal court: Suttlar v. Thurston, No. 4:22-CV-368 (E.D. Ark. Apr. 22, 2022).  

On July 13, 2022, a federal judge concluded she lacked jurisdiction over the case and sent it back to state court. 

Legislative: The Arkansas State Conference NAACP v. The Arkansas Board of Apportionment, No. 4:21-CV-1239 (E.D. Ark. Dec. 29, 2021), which was filed on behalf of Black voters in federal court, contends that the new state house map enacted by the Arkansas Board of Apportionment is racially discriminatory in violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.

The suit alleges that the map intentionally perpetuates a long history of discrimination against Black voters by packing and cracking them, which in turn dilutes their political power. Although the Black community constitutes 16.5 percent of Arkansas’s population, only 11 percent of house districts contain a Black majority.

On February 17, 2022, a federal judge declined to preliminarily enjoin Arkansas’s new legislative maps, finding that Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, a longtime bulwark against racial discrimination during the redistricting process, does not provide a private right of action. After the Justice Department declined to intervene in the Arkansas NAACP’s lawsuit, the judge dismissed the case. An appeal is pending before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit.

Florida

Racial discrimination and partisan gerrymandering 

Congressional: Black Voters Matter v. Lee, No. 2022-CA-000666 (Fla. Cir. Ct. Apr. 22, 2022), which was filed on behalf of voting rights organizations and Florida voters in state court, contends that the new congressional map enacted by the Florida legislature is racially discriminatory and a partisan gerrymander in violation of the Florida Constitution.

The suit alleges that the map intentionally dilutes the voting power of Black voters by cracking such voters throughout the state. As an example, the plan “obliterates” FL-5—the only district in North Florida where Black voters could elect their candidate of choice—by splitting the district’s Black population among four congressional districts. Regarding partisan gerrymandering, the plaintiffs contend that the map eliminates three Democratic seats and transforms two previously competitive districts into Republican-leaning seats.

On May 12, 2022, a trial court temporarily enjoined Florida’s new congressional map, finding that the map violated the Florida Constitution because it diminished the ability of Black voters’ residing in FL-5 to elect their candidate of choice. The court ordered the implementation of the plaintiffs’ proposed alternative plan for the 2022 election cycle, but an intermediate appeals court ruled that the trial court did not have discretion to implement that plan. Meanwhile, the Florida Supreme Court has declined to assume expedited jurisdiction over the case.

A separate lawsuit filed in federal court, Common Cause v. Byrd, No. 4:22-CV-109 (N.D. Fla. Mar. 11, 2022), contends that Florida’s new congressional map intentionally discriminates against Black voters in violation of the U.S. Constitution by cracking and packing such voters throughout the state. According to the plaintiffs, the map reduces the number of Black opportunity districts within the state from four to two.

Georgia

Racial discrimination

Congressional: Three cases have been filed in federal court by Black voters and civil rights organizations, contending that the new congressional map enacted by the Republican-controlled Georgia legislature is racially discriminatory in violation of the U.S. Constitution and/or Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.

Black voters allege that the map intentionally perpetuates a long history of discrimination against them by packing some Black voters in the Atlanta metropolitan area and cracking other such voters among rural-reaching and predominantly white districts, thereby diluting Black political power. They contend that the Georgia legislature was required to create an additional Black opportunity district in the western Atlanta metropolitan area.

The Black- and Latino-led organizations allege that Republican legislators “operated with surgical precision to crack and pack districts with higher percentages of Black, Latinx, and [Asian American Pacific Islander] voters, while moving the lines to increase the number of [w]hite voters in many districts.” Although communities of color account for nearly all of Georgia’s population growth over the past decade, the new congressional map does not create additional minority opportunity districts.

Voting rights organizations and additional Black voters allege that Georgia lawmakers racially gerrymandered three districts—GA-6, GA-13, and GA-14—to reduce minority voting power. According to the plaintiffs, the Georgia legislature cracked GA-6 so that minority voters could no longer elect the district’s first Black female congresswoman, Lucy McBath. It also packed minority voters from six counties into one sprawling district: GA-13. Finally, the legislature cracked GA-14 by lumping Black citizens living in Cobb County with voters from a predominately white, rural district whom they share little in common.

The cases are Common Cause v. Raffensperger, No. 1:22-CV-90 (N.D. Ga. Jan. 7, 2022) (voting rights organizations and Black voters), Pendergrass v. Raffensperger, No. 1:21-CV-5339 (N.D. Ga. Dec. 30, 2021) (Black voters) and Georgia State Conference of the NAACP v. State of Georgia, No. 1:21-CV-5338 (N.D. Ga. Dec. 30, 2021) (civil rights organizations).

Legislative: The Georgia NAACP lawsuit also contends that Georgia’s legislative maps are racially discriminatory.

Two additional cases have been filed in federal court by a Black fraternity, a religious organization, and Black voters, contending that Georgia’s legislative maps violate Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act by impermissibly packing and cracking Black voters. The plaintiffs allege that the legislative maps fail to include more than six additional Black opportunity districts.

The cases are Grant v. Raffensperger, No. 1:22-CV-122 (N.D. Ga. Jan. 11, 2022), and Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity v. Raffensperger, No. 1:21-CV-5337 (N.D. Ga. Dec. 30, 2021).

On February 28, 2022, a federal judge declined to preliminarily enjoin Georgia’s new congressional and legislative maps, finding that doing so would “not [be] in the public’s interest because changes to the redistricting maps at this point in the 2022 election schedule are likely to substantially disrupt the election process.” Despite this determination, the court concluded that “the plaintiffs have shown that they are likely to ultimately prove that certain aspects of the State’s redistricting plans are unlawful” since it is possible to create one additional Black congressional opportunity district and five such legislative districts.

Illinois

Racial discrimination

Legislative: Black and Latino voters have sued in federal court, contending that the maps passed by Democratic legislators are racially discriminatory in violation of the U.S. Constitution and/or Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.

Black-led organizations allege that the state house map cracks the Black community of the East St. Louis area into two state house districts to dilute its voting strength and shore up white Democratic incumbents.

Suits by Latino voters allege that the maps drawn by Democrats intentionally perpetuate a long history of discrimination against Latino voters by packing and cracking them, which in turn dilutes their political power. Under the maps, only 4 of 118 state house districts (three percent of districts) would have a Latino citizen voting age population (“CVAP”) 50 percent or greater even though the Latino community now compromises more than 11 percent of the state’s CVAP. Not only did the Illinois legislature fail to create more Latino districts, but it also reduced the number of Latino districts from the 2011 redistricting plan (even though Illinois’s Latino population grew more than any other racial or ethnic group within the state last decade).

Illinois Republican legislative leaders also have filed suit in federal court contending that the way the new state legislative maps were drawn has a racially discriminatory effect.

The cases are McConchie v. Illinois State Board of Elections, No. 1:21-CV-3091 (N.D. Ill. Jun. 9, 2021) (Republican legislative leaders), United Congress of Community and Religious Organizations v. Illinois State Board of Elections, No. 1:21-CV-5512 (N.D. Ill. Oct. 15, 2021) (Black-led organizations), and Contreras v. Illinois State Board of Elections, No. 1:21-CV-3139 (N.D. Ill. Jun. 10, 2021) (Latino voters and organizations).

On December 30, 2021, a three-judge panel rejected all of the plaintiffs’ claims that the most-recently drafted legislative maps are racially gerrymandered, finding that partisanship—rather than race—predominated in the configuration of the challenged districts and that plaintiffs did not otherwise establish a violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. The deadline to appeal has expired.

Kansas

Racial discrimination and partisan gerrymandering

Congressional: Three cases have been filed in state court by Black, Latino, and Democratic voters and a civil rights organization, contending that the new congressional map enacted by the Republican-controlled Kansas legislature is racially discriminatory and/or a partisan gerrymander in violation of the Kansas Constitution.

The suits allege that the map, which was enacted via an override of the governor’s veto, intentionally dilutes the voting power of Black, Latino, and Democratic voters by cracking such voters throughout the state. Despite the fact that all of Kansas’s population growth over the past decade occurred within communities of color and 40 percent of Kansans have voted in favor of Democratic candidates on average in recent statewide elections, each of Kansas’s congressional districts now favor Republicans. Currently, only one district—KS-3—is represented by a Democratic, Sharice Davids. In 2020, Davids, who is an openly LGBTQ Native American, won re-election by ten percentage points. Yet under the new map, KS-3 slightly leans Republican.

The cases are Frick v. Schwab, No. 2022-CV-71 (Kan. D. Ct. Mar. 1, 2022), Alonzo v. Schwab, No. 2022-CV-90 (Kan. D. Ct. Feb. 14, 2022) and Rivera v. Schwab, No. 2022-CV-89 (Kan. D. Ct. Feb. 14, 2022).

On April 25, 2022, a trial court struck down the legislature’s new congressional map, finding that the map was an extreme partisan gerrymander and racially discriminatory in violation of the Kansas Constitution. After concluding that Kansas courts may resolve partisan gerrymandering claims, the court determined that the new plan “displays clear signs” of a Republican gerrymander, which include “cracking communities of Democratic voters, drawing unnaturally shaped districts that run roughshod over communities of interest, and pairing far-flung communities throughout the state.” The court also held that five non-exhaustive factors “compel[] the conclusion that” the map intentionally dilutes minority voting power: 1) the plan “treats minority votes significantly less favorably than white vote[s][,]” 2) the map “was enacted under an abnormal legislative process[,]” 3) the process relied upon to produce the map “excluded minority voters in particular[,]” 4) “the plan is an unprecedented departure from prior plans in its treatment of minority voters[,]” and 5) the state’s justification for the map’s vote dilution—namely that I-70 splits white and minority communities—was pretextual. The court ordered the legislature to adopt a revised congressional map, subject to the court’s review. 

On May 18, 2022, a majority of the Kansas Supreme Court reversed the trial court, concluding that the new congressional map does not violate the Kansas Constitution. It determined that Kansas courts lack the power to hear claims of partisan gerrymandering since there is no “judicially discoverable and manageable standard in Kansas law that will guide a court in resolving” such claims. It also held that the plaintiffs had not met their burden to establish the legislature discriminated on the basis of race when drawing the map. 

On August 26, 2022, the Kansas Supreme Court summarily denied the plaintiffs’ motion to rehear their claims that the new congressional map is racially discriminatory.

Kentucky

Partisan gerrymandering

Congressional and legislative: Graham v. Adams, No. 22-CI-47 (Ky. Cir. Ct. Jan. 20, 2022), which was filed on behalf of Kentucky voters, a state representative, and the Kentucky Democratic Party in state court, contends that the new congressional and state house maps approved by the Kentucky legislature are extreme partisan gerrymanders in violation of the Kentucky Constitution.

The suit alleges that the maps, which were enacted via an override of the governor’s veto, intentionally dilute the voting power of Kentucky’s Democratic voters by packing and cracking such voters throughout the state. The plaintiffs contend that, to achieve the gerrymanders, the legislature drew districts that are irregularly shaped. As an example, “someone driving from Lexington to Louisville would cross five of the state’s [six] congressional districts, but it would take over four hours to get from one side of the First District to the other.”

On November 10, 2022, a trial court rejected the plaintiffs’ claims, concluding that the Kentucky Constitution does not expressly prohibit partisan gerrymandering even though the new congressional and state house maps are in fact partisan gerrymanders. No appeal is pending as of November 18, 2022.

Louisiana

Racial discrimination

Congressional: Two cases have been filed in federal court by Black voters, a voting rights organization, and a civil rights organization, contending that the new congressional map enacted by the Louisiana legislature over the governor’s veto is racially discriminatory in violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.

The suits allege that the map intentionally perpetuates a long history of discrimination against Black voters by packing and cracking them throughout the state, which in turn dilutes their political power given racially polarized voting. Under the new map, Black voters have the opportunity to elect a candidate of choice in only 1 of 6 districts (17 percent of districts) despite making up over 30 percent of the state’s voting age population. The plaintiffs allege that Black voters are sufficiently numerous and geographically compact that the congressional map should include a second Black opportunity district.

The cases are Galmon v. Ardoin, No. 3:22-CV-214 (M.D. La. Mar. 30, 2022), and Robinson v. Ardoin, No. 3:22-CV-211 (M.D. La. Mar. 30, 2022).

On June 6, 2022, a federal judge granted a preliminary injunction blocking Louisiana from using its newly enacted congressional map for the 2022 elections, finding that the plan is substantially likely to violate Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act because it did not include a second Black majority congressional district. The court rejected the defendants’ request to stay its order, which gave the Louisiana legislature until June 20 to adopt a replacement map. Because the legislature failed to produce a revised plan by that date, the trial court will implement a map. 

On June 28, 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court stayed the lower-court judgement pending appeal, which it will hear once the Court issues a decision in a separate appeal regarding Alabama’s congressional map

Legislative: Nairne v. Ardoin, No. 3:22-CV-178 (M.D. La. Mar. 14, 2022), which was filed in federal court on behalf of Black voters, a voting rights organization, and a civil rights organization, contends that the new state legislative maps enacted by the Louisiana legislature are racially discriminatory in violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.

The suit alleges that the map intentionally perpetuates a long history of discrimination against Black voters by packing and cracking them, which in turn dilutes their political power. Under the new maps, white voters will be able to elect their candidates of choice in over 70 percent of the legislative seats despite comprising only 58 percent of the voting-age population. The plaintiffs allege that the house map should include between six and nine additional Black opportunity districts, while the senate map should include three such additional districts.

On August 30, 2022, a federal judge stayed the case pending the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in an appeal regarding Alabama’s congressional map.

Maryland

Partisan gerrymandering

Congressional: Two cases filed in state court by registered Republicans contend that the new congressional map enacted by the Maryland legislature is an extreme partisan gerrymander in violation of the Maryland Constitution.

The suits allege that the map, which was enacted via an override of the governor’s veto, intentionally dilutes the voting power of Republican voters by cracking such voters throughout the state. The plaintiffs contend that, to split communities of interest, the legislature drew district lines that are distorted and noncompact. As an example, a roughly 20-mile drive north along the Baltimore-Washington Parkway from Cheverly, Maryland to Jessup, Maryland would lead a traveler through five different congressional districts.

The cases are Szeliga v. Lamone, No. C-02-CV-21–001816 (Md. Cir. Ct. Dec. 23, 2021), and Parrott v. Lamone, No. C-02-CV-21–001773 (Md. Cir. Ct. Dec. 21, 2021).

On March 25, 2022, the trial court struck down Maryland’s new congressional map, finding that the map “is an ‘outlier,’ an extreme gerrymander that subordinates constitutional criteria to political considerations.” Underlying that finding, according to the court, is the map’s “substantial deviation from ‘compactness’ as well as [its] failure to give ‘due regard’ to ‘the boundaries of political subdivisions’ as required by [the Maryland Constitution][.]” The court ordered the legislature to adopt a revised map, which the legislature did on March 30, 2022. The governor then signed the plan into law, and the state’s attorney general subsequently announced that the state was ending its appeal.

A third case challenging the state’s new congressional map—Alban v. Lamone, Misc. No. 30 (Md. Feb. 25, 2022)—also contended that the map is an extreme partisan gerrymander in violation of the Maryland Constitution. Republican voters filed the suit in Maryland’s highest court, the Maryland Court of Appeals.

The suit alleged that the Maryland legislature gerrymandered the map so that Democrats could sweep all eight of the state’s congressional seats (even though the state’s lone GOP district—MD-1—currently leans safely Republican). According to the petitioners, state legislators made MD-1 competitive by “egregiously” changing the boundaries of the district so that it “reach[es] across the Chesapeake Bay and far inland to grab suburban voters in Anne Arundel County.”

On March 1, 2022, the Maryland Court of Appeals summarily declined to hear the petitioners’ claims.

Legislative: Several petitions filed In re: 2022 Legislative Districting of the State, Misc. Nos. 21, 24, 25, 26, 27 (Md. Feb. 3, 2022), contend that Maryland’s new legislative plan is an extreme partisan gerrymander in violation of the Maryland Constitution.

The suits, which were filed in the Maryland Court of Appeals, allege that the plan intentionally dilutes the voting power of the state’s Republican voters. As an example, the plan packs Republican voters into District 31, which unnecessarily “includes a barbell-shaped part of Anne Arundel County[,]” to protect a Democratic incumbent serving another district.

On April 13, 2022, the Maryland Court of Appeals denied the petitioners’ claims. The Court concluded that the new legislative plan did not violate state constitutional provisions requiring that districts be compact, contiguous, and have due regard for natural boundaries. It also determined that the plan’s use of both single- and multi-member districts did not violate the Maryland or federal constitutions. Finally, it held that neither the Maryland nor federal constitutions “require that the plan include three one-member delegate subdistricts in District 2 simply because the district crossed a county line.”

Michigan

Racial discrimination and partisan gerrymandering

Congressional and legislative: Detroit Caucus v. Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission, No. 163926 (Mich. Jan. 5, 2022), which was filed in the Michigan Supreme Court on behalf of members of the Michigan House of Representatives representing Detroit (the “Detroit Caucus”), two city councils, and Black voters, contends that the new congressional and legislative maps enacted by the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission are racially discriminatory in violation of the Michigan Constitution, the U.S. Constitution, and Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.

On February 3, 2022, a 4–3 majority of the Michigan Supreme Court dismissed the Detroit Caucus lawsuit, noting that the plaintiffs had failed to submit any analysis of racial bloc voting to the Court. Additionally, the commission’s racial bloc-voting analysis indicated that, even in the absence of districts that were 50 percent or more minority, a sufficient number of white voters have supported Black-preferred candidates such that Black voters have an equal opportunity to elect representatives of their choice.

A separate lawsuit, League of Women Voters of Michigan v. Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission, No. 164022 (Mich. Feb. 1, 2022), which was filed in the Michigan Supreme Court on behalf of nonprofit organizations and Michigan voters, contends that the new state house map enacted by the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission is a partisan gerrymander in violation of the Michigan Constitution.

On March 25, 2022, the Michigan Supreme Court summarily dismissed the League of Women Voters lawsuit, stating that the Court was “not persuaded that it should grant the requested relief.”

A third lawsuit, which was filed on behalf of Black voters in federal court, Agee v. Benson, No. 1:22-CV-272 (W.D. Mich. Mar. 23, 2022), contends that the new legislative maps enacted by the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission are racially discriminatory in violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act and the U.S. Constitution.

Missouri

Racial Discrimination

Congressional: Berry v. Ashcroft, No. 4:22-CV-465 (E.D. Mo. Apr. 22, 2022), which was filed on behalf of a Black voter, contends that the Missouri legislature’s new congressional map is racially discriminatory in violation of the U.S. Constitution.

The suit alleges that the map discriminates against Black voters by packing them into MO-1, thereby diluting their voting power.

On July 8, 2022, a three-judge panel dismissed the plaintiff’s claim, concluding that enjoining the new congressional map plan at this stage would significantly disrupt the impending 2022 election cycle. The court expressed no opinion on whether the map violated the U.S. Constitution.

Nevada

Partisan gerrymandering

Legislative: Koenig v. Nevada, No. 210C001661B (Nev. D. Ct. Nov. 17, 2021), which was filed in state court, Republican voters and Elko County contend that Nevada’s new legislative maps are an extreme partisan gerrymander in violation of the Nevada Constitution.

The suit alleges that the maps intentionally dilute the voting power of Nevada’s Republican and independent voters by packing and cracking such voters throughout the state. As an example, the complaint points to the Assembly map’s splitting of the rural town of Pahrump into two districts, causing some of the town’s rural voters to be lumped together with urban voters (even though the suit says the two groups share almost nothing in common).

New Hampshire

Partisan gerrymandering

Legislative: Brown v. Scanlan, No. 226–2022-CV-00181 (N.H. Sup. Ct. May 6, 2022), which was filed on behalf of Democratic voters, contends that the New Hampshire legislature’s new state senate map is an extreme partisan gerrymander in violation of the New Hampshire Constitution.

The suit alleges that the map intentionally dilutes the voting power of New Hampshire’s Democratic voters by packing and cracking them throughout the state. To pack and crack such voters, the legislature drew districts that are irregularly shaped. As an example, the new Senate District 5 resembles the letter “C” so that legislators could “make [the district] as heavily Democratic as possible, thereby significantly bolstering the prospect of Republican candidates in neighboring districts.” The plaintiffs also claim that Republicans could still attain a veto-proof supermajority in the state senate under the new map even if they were to lose the statewide popular vote. Yet, according to the plaintiffs, Democrats would not even win a majority of seats with the same vote share.

On October 5, 2022, a trial court dismissed the plaintiffs’ claims, concluding that the court only had the power to enforce the explicit redistricting requirements of the New Hampshire constitution, none of which forbid partisan gerrymandering.

New Jersey

Partisan gerrymandering

Congressional: Steinhardt v. New Jersey Redistricting Commission, No. 086587 (N.J. Dec. 30, 2021), which was filed by the Republican members of the New Jersey Redistricting Commission before the state supreme court, contends that the commission’s new congressional map is a partisan gerrymander in violation of the New Jersey Constitution and the U.S. Constitution.

The New Jersey commission consists of 13 members: six appointees from each of New Jersey’s two largest political parties and one independent member. The suit alleges that the commission’s independent member cast the tiebreaking vote in favor of the Democratic members’ map because a Republican map had been adopted during the previous redistricting cycle. According to the plaintiffs, the new map is invalid because its ratification was contingent upon the independent member’s flawed reasoning in approving the map.

On February 3, 2022, the New Jersey Supreme Court unanimously dismissed the plaintiffs’ lawsuit, concluding that the scope of its review for an apportionment challenge under the New Jersey Constitution is limited to allegations of unlawfulness and invidious discrimination (neither of which the plaintiffs had contended). It also determined that the independent member did not have a conflict of interest that prevented him for serving on the commission.

New Mexico

Partisan gerrymandering

Congressional: Republican Party of New Mexico v. Oliver, No. D-506-CV-202200041 (N.M. D. Ct. Jan. 21, 2022), which was filed on behalf of the New Mexico Republican Party and New Mexico voters, contends that the state’s new congressional map is a partisan gerrymander in violation of the New Mexico Constitution.

The suit alleges that the map intentionally dilutes the voting power of New Mexico’s Republican voters by packing and cracking such voters in the southeastern part of the state. Under the old map, Republican voters residing in southeastern New Mexico were grouped within a single congressional district. By contrast, the plaintiffs contend that, under the new map, those voters are now split among all three of the state’s congressional districts. The plaintiffs note that the legislature did not adopt any of the three congressional maps proposed by New Mexico’s Citizen Redistricting Committee.

New York

Partisan gerrymandering

Congressional and legislative: Harkenrider v. Hochul, No. E2022–0116CV (N.Y. Sup. Ct. Feb. 3, 2022), which was filed on behalf of New York voters, contends that the state’s new congressional and state senate maps are extreme partisan gerrymanders in violation of the New York Constitution.

The suit alleges that the maps dilute the voting power of New York’s Republican voters by packing and cracking such voters throughout the state. Under the new congressional map, Democrats could gain as many as three seats. According to the petitioners, both maps are more biased in favor of Democrats than any of 5,000 computer-generated maps. The legislature gerrymandered the maps even though New Yorkers passed a constitutional amendment in 2014 ending New York’s history of partisan gerrymandering.

On March 31, 2022, the trial court struck down New York’s new congressional and legislative maps, finding that the state legislature violated the New York constitution by adopting those maps before the state’s Independent Redistricting Commission issued a second set of proposed plans. Although the petitioners had solely challenged the constitutionality of the new congressional and state senate maps, the court struck down the state assembly plan as well since “[t]he same faulty process was used [to enact] all three maps.” The court also invalidated the congressional map on the ground that it “was unconstitutionally drawn with political bias in violation of [Article III, Section 4(c)(5) of the New York Constitution][,]” which states that “[d]istricts shall not be drawn to discourage competition or for the purpose of favoring or disfavoring incumbents or other particular candidates or political parties.” The court ordered the legislature to adopt a new set of “bipartisanly supported maps[,]” subject to the court’s review. 

On April 21, 2022, a 3–2 majority of an intermediate appellate division partly affirmed the decision of the trial court, concluding that the new congressional map is in fact a partisan gerrymander. A separate 4–1 majority of the court reversed the trial court’s determination that the new congressional and legislative maps were void because the legislature did not follow the correct procedures when adopting those plans. The court therefore reinstated the state senate and state assembly plans. The court ordered the legislature to adopt a revised congressional map, subject to the trial court’s review. 

On April 27, 2022, a 4–3 majority of New York’s highest court, the New York Court of Appeals upheld the decision of the intermediate appellate division, determining that the legislatively enacted congressional map is a partisan gerrymander. In addition, the Court ruled that the process used to enact both the congressional and legislative maps violated the New York constitution, reversing the appellate division. The Court ordered the trial court to adopt revised congressional and state senate maps with “all due haste” and the assistance of a special master.

On May 20, 2022, a trial court ordered the implementation of revised congressional and state senate maps drawn by the special master appointed by the court.

Separately, on May 15, 2022, another group of New York voters challenged the new state assembly map on the ground that that plan was enacted under the same unconstitutional procedure as the congressional and state senate maps. The petitioners ask the trial court to retain a special master to draw a revised state assembly plan. The case is Nichols v. Hochul, No. 154213/2022 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. May 15, 2022).

On May 25, 2022, a trial court declined to preliminarily enjoin the new state assembly map, finding that the petitioners filed their action too close to the impending 2022 election cycle when they could have brought it months earlier. 

On June 10, 2022, an intermediate appellate division upheld the ruling of the trial court, agreeing that it was too late for New York State to implement a revised state assembly map for the 2022 election cycle. The court remanded the case to the trial court to determine “the proper means for” adopting a remedial plan for the remainder of the decade. 

On September 29, 2022, a trial court determined that the appropriate remedy is for New York’s Independent Redistricting Commission to reconvene and submit a revised state assembly map to the state legislature. According to the court, the legislature would be able to produce its own assembly map only after it rejects—or the governor vetoes—the revised plan and the commission then submits a second amended plan. An appeal is pending before an intermediate appellate court. 

North Carolina

Racial discrimination and partisan gerrymandering

Congressional and legislative: Two cases filed in state court by Black voters, Democratic voters, and an environmental organization contend that the new congressional and legislative maps enacted by the North Carolina legislature are racially discriminatory and partisan gerrymanders in violation of the North Carolina Constitution.

The suits allege that the congressional map intentionally dilutes the voting power of North Carolina’s Black citizens through packing and cracking of Black voters. Under the congressional map, Black voters have the opportunity to elect a candidate of choice in only 2 of 14 districts (14 percent of districts) despite making up around 30 percent of the state’s voting age population. The suits also assert that the congressional map entrenches the Republican Party’s power through the packing and cracking of Democratic voters. Models demonstrate that, under the map, if Republican candidates earned 50 percent of the statewide vote, they would win 71 percent of North Carolina’s congressional seats. Democratic candidates, however, could not win 50 percent of those seats unless they earned 57 percent of the statewide vote.

The cases are North Carolina League of Conservation Voters v. Hall, No. 21-CVS-15426 (N.C. Super. Ct. Nov. 16, 2021), and Harper v. Hall, No. 19-CVS-12667 (N.C. Super. Ct. Nov. 5, 2021). The former lawsuit additionally alleges that North Carolina’s legislative maps are racial and partisan gerrymanders that violate the North Carolina Constitution. According to that suit, the legislature could have drawn at least seven additional Black, legislative opportunity districts. The Wake County Superior Court has permitted Common Cause North Carolina to intervene in both lawsuits.

On January 11, 2022, a three-judge panel rejected all of the plaintiffs’ claims that the new congressional and legislative maps are partisan gerrymanders, finding that, given there were no “satisfactory and manageable criteria” for the court to adjudicate those claims, the legislature serves as the appropriate forum for the plaintiffs’ grievances. The court also concluded that the plaintiffs did not establish that race predominated during the map-drawing process or that the legislature intended to discriminate against Black voters.

On February 4, 2022, a 4–3 majority of the North Carolina Supreme Court reversed the trial court and invalidated the legislature’s new congressional and legislative maps, finding that the maps were a partisan gerrymander in violation of the North Carolina Constitution’s free elections clause, the equal protection clause, the free speech clause, and the freedom of assembly clause. After concluding that North Carolina courts may resolve partisan gerrymandering claims, the Court determined the constitutionality of the new maps. Because Republicans sought to achieve an amount of partisan advantage when drawing the maps that did not accord with their level of statewide support among voters, the Court held that the maps were unconstitutional. The Court ordered the legislature to adopt a new set of maps, subject to the trial court’s review.

On February 23, 2022, the trial court ordered the implementation of the legislature’s revised maps for the state house and senate. The court, however, rejected the legislature’s revised congressional map in favor of one recommended by court-appointed special masters. In a summary order, the North Carolina Supreme Court denied the plaintiffs’ appeals.

On March 7, 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to stay the trial court’s adoption of the new congressional map. However, on June 30, 2022, the Court granted the defendants’ request to review the case. 

North Dakota

Racial discrimination 

Legislative: Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians v. Jaeger, No. 3:22-CV-22 (D.N.D. Feb. 7, 2022), which was filed on behalf of two Native American tribes and Native American voters in federal court, contends that the new state legislative plan enacted by the North Dakota legislature is racially discriminatory in violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.

The suit alleges that the plan intentionally perpetuates a long history of discrimination against Native American voters by packing and cracking them, which in turn dilutes their political power. According to the plaintiffs, Native American voters only have a meaningful opportunity to elect candidates of their choice in two districts. They contend that instead of packing some Native American voters in one district and cracking others among two additional districts, the legislature should have combined some of the voters within these three districts to create a third Native American opportunity district.

A second lawsuit, Walen v. Burgum, No. 1:22-CV-31 (D.N.D. Feb. 16, 2022), which was filed on behalf of two North Dakota voters, contends that the new state legislative plan enacted by the North Dakota legislature is a racial gerrymander in violation of the U.S. Constitution.

The suit alleges that the legislature predominantly relied on race when drawing two Native American opportunity districts without adequate justification.

On May 26, 2022, a three-judge panel declined to preliminarily enjoin North Dakota’s new legislative plan, finding that the plaintiffs had not shown that race predominated during the map-drawing process and that temporarily enjoining the plan would significantly disrupt the impending 2022 election cycle. 

Ohio

Racial discrimination and partisan gerrymandering

Congressional: Two lawsuits by Ohio voters in state court contend that Ohio’s congressional map is a partisan gerrymander that violates the Ohio Constitution. According to the suits, the map passed by the Republican-controlled legislature gives Republicans a lopsided number of seats by splitting counties and Black communities to minimize the efficacy of Democratic votes. Under the plan, Republicans are projected to win 12 of 15 seats (80 percent) despite on average winning only 53 to 55 percent of the statewide vote.

The cases are Adams v. DeWine, No. 2021–1428 (Ohio Dec. 2, 2021), and League of Women Voters of Ohio v. Ohio Redistricting Commission, No. 2021–1449 (Ohio Nov. 30, 2021).

A separate lawsuit filed in federal court, Simon v. DeWine, No. 4:21-CV-2267 (N.D. Ohio Dec. 1, 2021), alleges that Ohio’s new congressional map is racially discriminatory because legislative leadership, when drawing the map, intentionally disregarded whether the proposed districts diluted the power of Black voters.

On January 14, 2022, a 4–3 majority of the Ohio Supreme Court invalidated the legislature’s new congressional map, finding that the map was a partisan gerrymander in violation of Article XIX, Sections 1(C)(3)(a) and (b) of the Ohio Constitution. Section 1(C)(3)(a) prevents a simple majority of the legislature from adopting a congressional map that “unduly favors or disfavors a political party or its incumbents,” while Section 1(C)(3)(b) prohibits the legislature from “unduly split[ting] governmental units.” The Court concluded that the map unduly favored Republicans and unduly split Hamilton, Cuyahoga, and Summit Counties. The Court ordered the legislature to pass a new map within 30 days of the Court’s ruling that complies with the Ohio Constitution and “is not dictated by partisan considerations.” Should the legislature fail to timely enact a plan within 30 days of the Court’s ruling, the Ohio Redistricting Commission will then have 30 days to produce a new map.

On March 2, 2022, the commission adopted an amended congressional plan after the legislature failed to enact a revised plan within 30 days of the Court’s January 14th order. The petitioners in Adams and League of Women Voters objected to the new map as violative of the Ohio Constitution, but the Court ruled that the petitioners would have to file new cases if they wanted to challenge the map.

In response to that ruling, the petitioners brought two lawsuits contending that the revised congressional map is a partisan gerrymander that violates the Ohio Constitution. According to the petitioners, the revised map “bears a striking resemblance to” the original map struck down by the Court. Despite the fact that approximately 47 percent of Ohio’s voters favor Democrats, the revised map merely allows Democrats to win up to four of the state’s 15 congressional seats (27 percent of seats).

The new cases challenging the redrawn map, which were filed in state court, are League of Women Voters of Ohio v. LaRose, No. 2022–0303 (Ohio Mar. 22, 2022), and Neiman v. LaRose, No. 2022–0298 (Ohio Mar. 21, 2022).

On July 19, 2022, the same four justices who rejected the first congressional map rejected the revised plan, finding that the map is another partisan gerrymander in violation of Article XIX, Section 1(C)(3)(a). According to the Court, the revised plan “allocates voters in ways that unnecessarily favor the Republican Party by packing Democratic voters into a few dense Democratic-leaning districts, thereby increasing the Republican vote share of the remaining districts.” Although the revised map will remain in effect for the 2022 election cycle, the Court ordered the legislature within 30 days of the Court’s ruling to adopt a new plan for the remainder of the decade. Should the legislature fail to timely enact a plan within the allotted time period, the Ohio Redistricting Commission will then have 30 days to produce a new map.

Legislative: Three cases filed in state court by Ohio voters, civil rights organizations, and an environmental organization contend that the new state legislative maps enacted by the Ohio Redistricting Commission unfairly advantage Republican voters in violation of the Ohio Constitution.

The suits allege that the maps intentionally dilute the voting power of Ohio Democrats and minority voters through packing and cracking. Under the state house map, if Republican candidates earned 54 percent of the statewide vote, they would win a veto-proof supermajority in Ohio’s House of Representatives. Yet with the same vote share, Democrats would not even win a majority of seats. The commission gerrymandered the state legislative maps even though Ohioans overwhelmingly passed a constitutional amendment in 2015 ending Ohio’s history of partisan gerrymandering.

The cases are Ohio Organizing Collaborative v. Ohio Redistricting Commission, No. 2021–1210 (Ohio Sept. 27, 2021) (Black and Muslim voters, civil rights organizations, and an environmental organization), Bennett v. Ohio Redistricting Commission, No. 2021–1199 (Ohio Sept. 24, 2021) (Democratic voters), and League of Women Voters of Ohio v. Ohio Redistricting Commission, No. 2021–1193 (Ohio Sept. 24, 2021) (good government and Black-led organizations and individual voters). The Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law represents plaintiffs in the Ohio Organizing Collaborative case.

The Simon lawsuit’s allegations of racial gerrymandering also apply to the commission’s enactment of the Ohio senate map.

On January 12, 2022, a 4–3 majority of the Ohio Supreme Court invalidated the commission’s new legislative maps, finding that the maps were a partisan gerrymander in violation of Article XI, Sections 6(A) and (B) of the Ohio Constitution. Sections 6(A) and (B) require the commission to “attempt” drawing maps that do not “primarily . . . favor or disfavor a political party” and in which the statewide proportion of districts “corresponds closely” to the statewide preferences of Ohio voters expressed over the previous decade, respectively. The Court concluded that the commission failed to comply with Section 6(A) because it drew maps heavily favoring Republicans. It also determined that the commission failed to adhere to Section 6(B) because it misunderstood the requirements of that provision. According to the Court, Section 6(B) obliges the commission to attempt producing a plan that closely corresponds to 54 percent Republican-leaning districts and 46 percent Democratic-leaning districts. The Court ordered the commission to adopt a new set of maps.

The commission enacted a revised General Assembly plan on January 22, 2022. The petitioners in all three cases then objected to the plan, arguing that it violates Sections 6(A) and (B). According to the petitioners, the revised plan disadvantages Democrats by creating 14 toss-up districts in the state house, all of which lean Democratic. They also contend that the state senate map still allows Republicans to maintain a veto-proof supermajority.

On February 7, 2022, the same four justices who rejected the commission’s original plan rejected its revised maps, finding that the maps were another partisan gerrymander in violation of Sections 6(A) and 6(B). The Court determined that the commission failed to comply with Section 6(A) because it merely tweaked the original, invalid plan to secure Republicans an unfair advantage. It also ruled that the commission failed to abide by Section 6(B) because the statewide proportion of districts cannot closely correspond to the statewide preferences of Ohio voters “[w]hen 12 of the 42 ‘Democratic-leaning’ House districts (i.e., more than 25 percent) are very close ‘toss-up’ districts yet there are 0 ‘Republican-leaning’ districts that are similarly close[.]” The Court ordered the commission to adopt a new set of maps by February 17, 2022.

The commission enacted a third General Assembly plan on February 24, 2022. The petitioners in all three cases once again objected, arguing that the second revised plan violates Sections 6(A) and (B). According to the petitioners, the maps disadvantage Democrats by creating 26 toss-up districts in the General Assembly, all of which lean Democratic. The second revised plan incorporates nearly twice the number of toss-up districts that were included in the last plan invalidated by the Court. Several of the petitioners asked the Court to declare the constitutional validity of legislative maps produced by Dr. Jonathan Rodden, an expert on redistricting.

On March 16, 2022, the same four justices who rejected the commission’s original and first revised plans rejected its second revised maps, finding that the maps were yet another partisan gerrymander in violation of Sections 6(A) and 6(B). The Court determined that the commission failed to comply with Section 6(A) because it once again allowed Republicans to exclusively control the map-drawing process and Republican commissioners “exercised that control with the overriding intent to maintain as much of an advantage as possible for members of their political party.” It also ruled that the commission failed to abide by Section 6(B) because when 26 toss-up districts in the legislative plan—all of which leaned Democratic—are excluded, nearly 68 percent of the non-excluded districts favor Republicans, while just 32 percent favor Democrats.

On March 23, 2022, the Simon plaintiffs voluntarily dismissed their lawsuit.

The commission enacted a fourth General Assembly plan on March 28, 2022. The petitioners in all three cases once again objected, arguing that the third revised plan violates Sections 6(A) and (B). According to the petitioners, the maps disadvantage Democrats by creating 23 toss-up districts in the General Assembly, all of which lean Democratic. The third revised plan is nearly identical to the invalidated second revised plan. Several of the petitioners asked the Court to implement its own map or declare the constitutional validity of legislative maps produced by two independent map drawers hired by the commission.

On April 14, 2022, the same four justices who rejected the commission’s original, first revised, and second revised plans rejected its third revised maps, finding that the maps were yet another partisan gerrymander in violation of Sections 6(A) and 6(B). The Court determined that the commission failed to comply with Section 6(A) because “rather than helping the independent map drawers finish their work on a plan, the commission instead chose to modify a previously invalidated plan.” It also ruled that the commission failed to abide by Section 6(B) because when 23 toss-up districts in the legislative plan—all of which leaned Democratic—are excluded, 66 percent of the non-excluded districts favor Republicans, while just 34 percent favor Democrats. The Court rejected requests to adopt its own map or declare the constitutional validity of an alternative plan, determining that the Ohio Constitution did not permit the Court to implement such remedies. It gave the commission until May 6, 2022 to adopt another General Assembly plan, subject to the Court’s review.

On March 28, 2022, a federal court implemented the commission’s second revised plan for the 2022 election cycle because the commission and state lawmakers failed to produce a lawful General Assembly plan by that date. The Ohio Supreme Court had previously rejected that plan as an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander.

Pennsylvania

Racial discrimination and partisan gerrymandering

Legislative: Two cases filed in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court by the state house majority leader and a Pennsylvania voter contend that the new state legislative maps enacted by Pennsylvania’s Legislative Reapportionment Commission are racially discriminatory and partisan gerrymanders in violation of the Pennsylvania Constitution and/or the U.S. Constitution.

The suits allege that the commission predominantly relied on race when drawing districts without adequate justification. As for partisan gerrymandering, the plaintiffs contend that the maps are more biased in favor of Democrats than 99.998 percent of simulated maps.

The cases are Roe v. 2021 Legislative Reapportionment Commission, No. 16 MM 2022 (Pa. Mar. 7, 2022), and Benninghoff v. 2021 Legislative Reapportionment Commission, No. 11 MM 2022 (Pa. Feb. 17, 2022).

In a separate lawsuit, Covert v. Pennsylvania 2021 Legislative Reapportionment Commission, No. 4 WM 2022 (Pa. Feb. 15, 2022), Pennsylvania voters contend that the new state house map is a partisan gerrymander in violation of the Pennsylvania Constitution. The petitioners allege that Butler County residents are “victims of excessive partisan or political classifications” since the commission excessively split the County in the new map.

On March 16, 2022, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued a summary order rejecting the petitions, finding that the new legislative maps comply with state and federal law.

On March 28, 2022, a federal court imple­mented the commission’s second revised plan for the 2022 election cycle because the commission and state lawmakers failed to produce a lawful General Assembly plan by that date. The Ohio Supreme Court had previously rejected that plan as an unconsti­tu­tional partisan gerrymander.

On October 31, 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s ruling in Benninghoff.

South Carolina

Racial discrimination

Congressional and legislative: The South Carolina State Conference of the NAACP v. Alexander, No. 3:21-CV-3302 (D.S.C. Oct. 12, 2021), which was filed on behalf of a civil rights organization and a Black voter, contends that the new congressional and state house maps enacted by the South Carolina legislature discriminate against Black voters in violation of the U.S. Constitution.

The suit alleges that the map intentionally perpetuates a long history of discrimination against Black voters by packing and cracking them, which in turn dilutes their political power. As an example, the legislature “unnecessarily” split the City of Anderson “into four districts like a shattered mirror” to prevent Black voters from influencing the elections within any of those districts.

On May 5, 2022 and pursuant to a settlement agreement, the South Carolina legislature agreed to adopt a reviewed state house map. The amended map, however, will not take effect until the 2024 election cycle. The settlement agreement does not resolve the plaintiffs’ claims with respect to the new congressional map.

Tennessee

Partisan gerrymandering

Legislative: Moore v. Lee, No. 22–0287-IV (Tenn. Ch. Ct. Feb. 23, 2022), which was filed on behalf of Tennessee voters, contends that the state’s new state legislative maps an extreme partisan gerrymander in violation of the Tennessee Constitution.

The suit alleges that, to achieve unfair partisan advantage, the Republican-controlled Tennessee legislature split more counties than necessary to maintain equipopulous districts. It also contends that the state senate map fails to include consecutively numbered districts for those districts that lie within Davidson County.

On April 6, 2022, a three-judge panel temporarily enjoined Tennessee’s new state senate map, finding that the map violated the Tennessee Constitution. The panel declined to temporarily block the state house map. The panel ordered the legislature to adopt a new senate plan within fifteen days. Should the legislature fail to timely produce a new plan within the allotted time period, the panel will implement its own map just for the 2022 election cycle. 

On April 13, 2022, a 4–1 majority of the Tennessee Supreme Court reversed the trial court, concluding that the lower court had invalidated the legislature’s new state senate map too close to the upcoming 2022 election cycle. The Court expressed no opinion on whether the trial court properly ruled that the senate map violated the Tennessee Constitution.

Texas

Racial discrimination

Congressional: Nine cases filed in federal court by Latino, Black, and Asian voters, civil rights organizations, the nation’s oldest and largest Latino legislative caucus, and the Justice Department contend that the new congressional map enacted by the Texas legislature is racially discriminatory in violation of the U.S. Constitution and/or Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.

The suits allege that the map intentionally perpetuates a long history of discrimination against minority voters by packing and cracking them, which in turn dilutes their political power. As a result of the 2020 Census, Texas received two additional congressional seats. Yet under the new map, those seats each have white voting majorities even though 95 percent of Texas’s population growth last decade occurred within communities of color. Overall, white Texans form a majority of eligible voters in more than 22 of 38 districts (60 percent of districts) despite making up less than 40 percent of Texas’s population. And although 49.5 percent of Texas’s population growth over the last decade occurred within the Latino population, the new congressional map does not create any new Latino opportunity districts.

The cases are Escobar v. Abbott, No. 3:22-CV-22 (W.D. Tex. Jan. 12, 2022) (Latina voter), Fischer v. Abbott, No. 3:21-CV-306 (W.D. Tex. Dec. 13, 2021) (Latino voter), United States v. Texas, No. 3:21-CV-299 (W.D. Tex. Dec. 6, 2021), Fair Maps Texas Action Committee v. Abbott, No. 1:21-CV-1038 (W.D. Tex. Nov. 16, 2021) (Latino, Black, and Asian voters and organizations), Texas State Conference of the NAACP v. Abbott, No. 1:21-CV-1006 (W.D. Tex. Nov. 5, 2021) (organization), Brooks v. Abbott, No. 1:21-CV-991 (W.D. Tex. Nov. 3, 2021) (Latino and Black voters), MALC v. Texas, No. 1:21-CV-988 (W.D. Tex. Nov. 3, 2021) (organization), Abuabara v. Scott, No. 1:21-CV-965 (W.D. Tex. Oct. 25, 2021) (Latino and Black voters and one Latino voter organization), and LULAC v. Abbott, No. 3:21-CV-259 (W.D. Tex. Oct. 18, 2021) (Latino voters and organizations).

On June 23, 2022, the Escobar suit was voluntarily dismissed.

Legislative: In addition, the Justice Department, Fair Maps coalition, Texas NAACP, MALC, Brooks, Abuabara, and LULAC lawsuits also contend that Texas’s legislative maps are racially discriminatory.

Latino plaintiffs contend that the maps overpopulate Latino majority districts and under-populate majority-white districts in order to avoid drawing additional Latino districts. They also allege that the maps actually reduce the total number of Latino majority districts from the previous redistricting cycle, despite massive growth in the Latino population last decade. Other plaintiffs contend that the map badly fractures Black, Latino, and Asian communities, especially in the state’s rapidly diversifying suburbs.

On May 4, 2022, a three-judge panel declined to preliminary enjoin Texas’s new state senate map, finding that the legislature did not intend to discriminate against minorities when producing the plan even though “the new senate map may disproportionately affect minority voters in Tarrant County, and though the legislature may at times have given pretextual reasons for its redistricting decisions[.]”

Utah

Partisan gerrymandering

Congressional: League of Women Voters of Utah v. Utah State Legislature, No. 220901712 (Utah D. Ct. Mar. 17, 2022), which was filed on behalf of Utah voters, a voting rights organization, and a civil rights organization, contends that the Utah legislature’s new congressional map is an extreme partisan gerrymander in violation of the Utah Constitution.

The suits allege that the map intentionally dilutes the voting power of non-Republican voters by splitting Salt Lake County among each of the state’s four congressional districts.

Washington

Racial discrimination

Legislative: Palmer v. Hobbs, No. 3:22-CV-5035 (W.D. Wash. Jan. 19, 2022), which was filed on behalf of Latino voters and a voting-rights organization in federal court, contends that the new legislative plan adopted by the Washington State Redistricting Commission discriminates against Latino voters in violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.

The suit alleges that the plan creates a “façade of a Latino opportunity district” within the Yakima Valley region. According to the plaintiffs, the commission cracked the region’s Latino population among multiple districts, which resulted in a Latino opportunity district—District 15—that barely includes a Latino voting-age population over 50 percent. The plaintiffs request the creation of a Latino opportunity district within the Yakima Valley that would provide Latino voters “with an effective opportunity to elect the candidate of their choice to the Washington State Legislature.”

On April 13, 2022, a federal judge declined to preliminarily enjoin Washington’s new legislative plan, finding that the state was “too close to the 2022 election to enjoin the use of the [] plan for this election cycle” and “that any delay in the establishment of precinct boundaries will likely lead to confusion for both candidates and voters in [District 15].” The court also dismissed the speaker of the state house and the majority leader of the state senate from the lawsuit because they were not proper defendants for the Palmer plaintiffs’ Section 2 claim. The court, however, did not rule on the underlying merits of that claim.

A Washington voter also filed a separate lawsuit, Garcia v. Hobbs, No. 3:22-CV-5152 (W.D. Wash. Mar. 15, 2022), contending that District 15 in the new legislative plan is racially gerrymandered in violation of the U.S. Constitution. According to the plaintiff, the district’s “odd shape” can only be explained by the fact that the commission improperly relied upon race as the predominant factor when drawing the district.