Court Demands New Legislative District Map After Constitutional Violations

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A Tennessee court has struck down state Senate maps instituted there over evident Constitutional violations after the Republicans running the state implemented districts covering the same county that were numbered non-consecutively, meaning there were multiple odd-numbered jurisdictions grouped together.

The numbering of a state Senate district in Tennessee determines when it appears on the ballot, and the earlier Republican arrangement threatened to force several local legislative elections in the state’s heavily Democratic Davidson County out of presidential election years. That set-up could have impacted turnout, since the other elections on a ballot can often have some effect on the outcome for any given race, such as though particularly high voter participation associated with a high-stakes presidential contest.

Districts including some portion of Davidson County, which includes the state capital of Nashville, were numbered 17, 19, 20, and 21, meaning only one — the even-numbered district — would have been voted upon by local residents in a presidential election year. “As a result, Davidson County would have held three state Senate elections in the same year as gubernatorial elections and only one state Senate election during a presidential year,” the voting rights organization Democracy Docket explained.

One of the famously embattled Tennessee legislators who faced an expulsion vote represents a local area, but he’s in the state House. Justin Jones, that legislator, was threatened with expulsion alongside two other Democrats for expressing support for a gun control protest from the state House floor. He and Justin Pearson did end up expelled but quickly regained their seats, rebuffing Republicans. The third targeted legislator, Gloria Johnson, is now running for Senate in hopes of unseating Republican Marsha Blackburn in 2024. All three gained a wide profile in connection to their activism, even meeting with President Joe Biden in Washington, D.C. It all followed a school shooting in Nashville in which three children and three adults were killed, excluding the shooter.