June 26, 2003
(Washington-AP) -- The US Supreme Court today gave states some leeway in drawing political boundaries in areas with heavy black populations, a ruling that helps Democrats.
In a 5-to-4 ruling, the justices said lower courts reviewing redistricting cases should consider all factors and not focus solely on whether minorities can elect a minority candidate.
A lower court had ruled that Georgia improperly drew its election districts after the 2000 census, spreading black voters into more districts in an attempt to help Democrats win more offices.
Justices threw out that decision and ordered more consideration of the lines. In a dissent, Justice David Souter and the other more liberal members of the court said that the court's new standard would put more politics into redistricting, and "there will simply be greater opportunity to reduce minority voting strength in the guise of obtaining party advantage."
Governor Perdue -- who became Georgia's first GOP governor in 130 years in the last election -- had tried to block the appeal. A state court ruling on the governor's authority to stop litigation is pending.
The Bush administration also weighed in on the issue and argued that the Democratic-controlled Legislature went too far in reducing minority voting strength in those heavily black districts.
The ruling only affects states that are subject to the 1965 Voting Rights Act, the Southern states, which discourages dilution of minority voting strength.
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