UNITED STATES NEWS

Tennessee Supreme Court blocks decision to redraw state’s Senate redistricting maps

Dec 8, 2023, 3:10 PM

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee’s highest court on Friday temporarily blocked a lower court’s decision that lawmakers must redraw the state’s Senate maps in a ruling that means the current legislative districts will likely remain in place for the 2024 elections.

Late last month, a panel of judges ruled that the Republican-drawn map violated the state Constitution because lawmakers incorrectly numbered the seats in left-leaning Nashville. The numbers are important because they determine the years those seats are on the ballot.

The same trial judges ruled to temporarily block the Senate map in 2022, but the Supreme Court reinstated the districts then as well, reasoning that it was too close to the election.

In response to the November ruling, the state’s attorneys quickly moved to seek a pause of the decision, arguing that the plaintiffs had no standing to sue and that the state wanted to exhaust all of its appeals options before having to reconfigure district lines.

The Tennessee Supreme Court sided with the state in its Friday ruling. Doing so means the maps will remain in place as the appeals process plays out, which is typically a lengthy process and could easily bleed past the 2024 general elections.

Republicans celebrated the decision, including Senate Speaker Randy McNally, who has repeatedly defended the Senate map as legally sound.

“(McNally) is grateful the court recognized the clear and convincing need for a stay in this case,” said Adam Kleinheider, the speaker’s spokesperson. “He remains optimistic the state will ultimately prevail on appeal.”

The state has argued that because lawmakers reconvene on Jan. 9 and have a Jan. 31 deadline to draw a new Senate map, there’s not enough time to proceed under that timeline.

Attorneys for the plaintiff challenging the Senate map said lawmakers could begin work on a map immediately before they officially go into session. They wrote that the Supreme Court could decide the state’s appeal by the middle of January, offering a timeline to pass the maps similar to that in which lawmakers initially completed their redistricting work in late January 2022.

At issue are maps passed by the Republican-supermajority Legislature in 2022 during the once-a-decade redistricting process.

Tennessee’s constitution dictates that districts must be numbered consecutively in counties that have more than one district. The existing redistricting plan does not do that in Davidson County, which encompasses Nashville. Instead, its districts are numbered 17, 19, 20 and 21.

The numbering matters because the four-year Senate terms are staggered, putting some districts on the ballot in presidential election years, others in gubernatorial election cycles.

Currently, those four districts are represented by three Democrats and one Republican. There are 27 Republicans and 6 Democrats in the state Senate.

Court filings show that the state’s attorneys “conceded” they would not defend the Senate map in court and instead focused their attention arguing that the plaintiffs didn’t have standing to sue.

“The courts have ruled the Senate map an illegal gerrymander,” said Brandon Puttbrese, spokesperson for the Senate Democratic caucus. “Any new ruling that allows unconstitutional maps to remain in place for another election undermines our democracy and the will of voters.”

Tennessee’s state House map was also challenged in the lawsuit, though the state did defend those boundaries.

The lawsuit has been ongoing since 2022 after three voters backed by the Tennessee Democratic Party filed a complaint seeking to challenge the maps.

The state argued that the plaintiffs lacked standing to sue over the maps, but the panel of judges allowed the case to proceed with one plaintiff eligible to challenge the House map and another allowed to contest the Senate map.

In April 2022, the panel of state trial-level judges blocked the Senate map from taking effect. The state appealed, and within a week, the Tennessee Supreme Court overturned that decision and let the maps stand.

A legal challenge against Tennessee’s redistricting maps is still pending in federal court, as well.

___

Jonathan Mattise in Nashville contributed to this report.

United States News

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump hugs and kisses the American flag a...

Associated Press

Trump calls himself a ‘proud political dissident’ in CPAC speech

In a CPAC speech, Trump painted an apocalyptic vision of the future if President Joe Biden wins again as the two prepare for a rematch.

2 hours ago

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump gestures to the audience after spea...

Associated Press

Donald Trump wins South Carolina GOP primary, beating Nikki Haley in her home state

Trump has now swept every contest that counted for Republican delegates, with wins already in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada.

3 hours ago

Associated Press

Why AP called South Carolina for Trump: Race call explained

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Associated Press declared Donald Trump the winner of the South Carolina primary as soon as polls closed on Saturday. The race call was based on a comprehensive survey of South Carolina Republican primary voters that showed him defeating Nikki Haley by wide margins in her home state. Declaring a winner as […]

3 hours ago

Associated Press

Former NFL player Richard Sherman arrested on suspicion of DUI, authorities in Washington state say

SEATTLE (AP) — Former NFL player Richard Sherman was arrested early Saturday on suspicion of driving under the influence, according to the Washington State Patrol. No other details about the arrest were immediately available, said Trooper Rick Johnson, a patrol spokesperson. A spokesperson for the King County Prosecutor’s Office said nothing had been sent to […]

3 hours ago

Associated Press

Lithium ion battery caused fatal fire in New York City apartment building, officials say

NEW YORK (AP) — A lithium ion battery sparked a fire that killed one person and injured 17 others at a New York City apartment building, fire officials said Saturday. Friday’s two-alarm fire began just after 2 p.m. on the third floor of a six-story building in Harlem. New York Police Department video shows firefighters […]

4 hours ago

Associated Press

Federal prosecutors accuse a New Mexico woman of fraud in oil and gas royalty case

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A New Mexico businesswoman is accused of defrauding the U.S. government and two Native American tribes of taxes and royalties due to them for oil and gas that her companies extracted from leased federal and tribal lands. Federal prosecutors announced this week that Teresa McCown recently was indicted by a grand […]

5 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Midwestern University

Midwestern University Clinics: transforming health care in the valley

Midwestern University, long a fixture of comprehensive health care education in the West Valley, is also a recognized leader in community health care.

...

Collins Comfort Masters

Here’s 1 way to ensure your family is drinking safe water

Water is maybe one of the most important resources in our lives, and especially if you have kids, you want them to have access to safe water.

(KTAR News Graphic)...

Boys & Girls Clubs

KTAR launches online holiday auction benefitting Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley

KTAR is teaming up with The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley for a holiday auction benefitting thousands of Valley kids.

Tennessee Supreme Court blocks decision to redraw state’s Senate redistricting maps