Tennessee’s Black Lawmakers Want a Say on the State’s Redistricting Map

Tennessee’s Black Lawmakers Want a Say on the State’s Redistricting Map

The state's Black caucus plans to launch a court challenge to any map that does not include its members' input.

Published October 26, 2011

Tennessee Republicans are not scheduled to unveil the state’s new redistricting map until January 2012, but the Black Caucus of State Legislators say that they not only have no intention of waiting until then, but also are insisting that its members are allowed to participate in the process.


The group announced at a press conference on Tuesday that if the GOP doesn’t comply with its request, it will challenge the subsequent map in court because members do not believe that Republicans will be fair to minority voters or adhere to the Voting Rights Act of 1965, The Tennessean reports. The caucus also wants to get an additional majority-minority seat.


According to the lines drawn so far, some districts that are currently represented by Black lawmakers could be merged while others are created based on demographic shifts. In addition, it would put two incumbent African-American lawmakers into one district, pitting them against each other, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reports.


“There’s more to it than merely numbers,” State Rep. G.A. Hardaway told the publication. “There can be no fair plan without involving the Tennessee Black Caucus of State Legislators.”


Republicans, who are getting their first shot at controlling the redistricting process for the first time in decades, are in no mood for threats.


“We are trying to work with every member of the General Assembly to hear their concerns, and there are no exceptions due to party or caucus,” said House Speaker Beth Harwell in a statement. “It’s a work in progress, and I would like to request that work be allowed to continue without the threat of a lawsuit. That is counterproductive to the process at this point.”

(Photo: Rusty Russell/Getty Images)

Written by Joyce Jones


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