LWV Tennessee, the Tennessee NAACP, the Equity Alliance, Memphis A. Phillip Randolph Institute, African American Clergy Collective of Tennessee, and five individual voters filed a federal lawsuit arguing the state’s fifth, sixth, and seventh Congressional districts as well as the 31st state senate district were racially gerrymandered.
In 2021, after the completion of the 2020 Census, Tennessee was required to redraw its Congressional and state legislative districts to reflect population changes.
On February 6, 2022, Republican Governor Bill Lee signed new Congressional and state legislative districts into law.
Under the new congressional map, Davidson County, containing Nashville and an increasing population of people of color, was split three ways, with the urban areas being combined with white-majority rural areas. For decades, previous maps had kept Davidson County and Nashville whole in one district, which, at the time of redistricting had a 31.33% Black and Hispanic voting age population. The new fifth, sixth, and seventh Congressional districts that divided Nashville and Davidson County into pieces were 20.42%, 14.94%, and 21.57% Black and Hispanic voting age population, respectively.
The new state senate map also made significant changes to senate district 31 (“SD-31”), located in Shelby County, a majority-Black county containing Memphis. Before redistricting, SD-31 was centered around Cordova, a relatively diverse suburb of Memphis. The new SD-31 excluded Cordova and added the white neighborhoods of Germantown and Lakeland. In doing so, the new SD-31 has a 26.58% non-White voting age population, as opposed to the pre-redistricting SD-31, which had a non-white voting age population of 39.15%.
On August 8, 2023, the League of Women Voters of Tennessee (“LWV Tennessee”), the Tennessee NAACP, the Equity Alliance, the Memphis A. Phillip Randolph Institute, the African American Clergy Collective of Tennessee, and five Tennessee voters filed a federal lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee. The complaint asserted that the congressional districts and state senate district in question were racially gerrymandered and intentionally drawn with discriminatory purpose in violation of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution.
LWV Tennessee is represented in this matter by Sperling and Slater, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Southern Coalition for Social Justice, and Winston Strawn, LLP.
LWV Tennessee files lawsuit.
LWV Tennessee, partner organizations and several individual Tennessee voters file a federal lawsuit, asserting the new fifth, sixth and seventh Congressional districts in and around Nashville and senate district 31 near Memphis were racially gerrymandered and intentionally drawn with a discriminatory purpose in violation of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution.