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Redistricting Litigation Roundup

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

Last Updated: August 10, 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 August 10, 2022, a total of 72 cases have been filed chal­len­ging congres­sional and legis­lat­ive maps in 26 states as racially discrim­in­at­ory and/or partisan gerry­manders.

Litig­a­tion has resul­ted in orders from state courts to redraw legis­lat­ive and/or congres­sional maps in Alaska, Mary­land, New York, North Caro­lina, and Ohio in time for the 2022 elec­tion cycle. (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. Addi­tion­ally, federal courts also ordered a redraw of Alabama’s and Louisi­ana’s congres­sional maps, but the Supreme Court stayed those judge­ments pending appeal.) A total of 42 cases remain pending at either the trial or appel­late levels.

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. Lee, 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. 

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.”

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.

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.

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.

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. 

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.

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.