U.S. Supreme Court Backs Black Voters Challenging Georgia Election Rules | Georgia

Black voters challenging Georgia’s method of electing state civil service commissioners get preliminary result United States Supreme Court order in their favor late Friday.

The decision came after conflicting lower court rulings earlier this month, providing a rare example of the Supreme Court’s 6-3 conservative majority on the side of voters versus state officials.

Earlier this month, a federal district judge concluded that the current system gives less weight to the votes of black residents. Each of the commission’s five seats has jurisdiction over a specific district, but each seat holder is elected in a statewide race that dilutes the power of black voters, said the decision, which came from Judge appointed by Trump to the White House Steven Grimberg.

Grimberg ordered a postponement of a November election for two commissioner seats to give the state legislature time to create a new system for electing commissioners, granting a request from a group of contesting voters. the system.

However, last week the US Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit temporarily stayed Grimberg’s decision, citing the “Purcell’s Principlewhich discourages the courts from changing election rules just before an election.

The Supreme Court reinstated the Grimberg on Friday decisionplaintiffs citing testimony from numerous experts who have concluded that Georgia’s current Civil Service Commission electoral system discriminates against black voters.

Political data analyst Bernard Fraga, who focuses on the behavior of vote in communitiestestified that statewide voting allows Georgia’s majority white population to stifle votes from districts with predominantly black residents.

“And, because the elections are staggered, a minority group is less likely to concentrate its voting power behind a candidate of choice,” Fraga said, according to the decision.

The ruling also cites testimony from a former employee of the US Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, Stephen Popick.

He said his study of voting behavior in Georgia between 2012 and 2020 showed “electoral polarization” between black and white voters, and the latter candidate always won even though black voters all lined up behind the same leader as a group.

Plaintiffs’ attorney Nico Martinez told the Guardian on Saturday he was “confident that the well-reasoned decision of the district court will ultimately be upheld” as the case continues in the 11th Circuit. Georgia officials withdrew an application to remain in the 11th Circuit, preventing civil service commissions from voting in the November election cycle.

“We are pleased that the Supreme Court has taken this important step to ensure that . [public service commission] elections are not conducted using a method that illegally dilutes the votes of millions of black citizens in Georgia,” said Martinez, a partner at the law firm Bartlit Beck.

Note: This post has been updated to note that Georgia officials have withdrawn a request for a stay.

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