FACTBOX-Court fights could tip control of US House in November elections
But the court's new conservative majority in April reversed the decision, ruling that state law does not prohibit gerrymandering, the practice of drawing districts to maximize partisan advantage. SOUTH CAROLINA: DEMOCRATS COULD GAIN ONE SEAT The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in October over whether South Carolina's congressional map illegally diluted the power of Black voters.
Legal battles over redistricting could lead to new congressional maps for the 2024 election in more than half a dozen U.S. states, potentially flipping control of the U.S. House of Representatives, which currently has a 219-212 Republican majority with four vacancies. The narrow Republican majority could shrink even further on Tuesday, when voters in New York's 3rd Congressional District will choose a replacement for Republican U.S. Representative George Santos, who was indicted on federal fraud charges and expelled from the House in December.
The two parties are fighting over maps that were redrawn after the 2020 U.S. Census. Democrats have already likely picked up seats in Alabama and Louisiana, while Republicans are poised to flip three Democratic-held seats under a new North Carolina map; more seats are at stake in pending litigation. Redistricting will not affect the battle for the Senate, where each state gets two seats and where Democrats face a significant risk of losing their 51-49 majority.
Here are some of the cases that could affect the campaign: NEW YORK: DEMOCRATS COULD GAIN UP TO SIX SEATS
In 2022, a state judge threw out a Democratic-engineered map and put in place a more competitive version. As a result, Democrats went from a 19-8 advantage across the state's House districts to a 15-11 edge (New York lost one seat after 2020 due to slower population growth), nearly enough on its own to deliver Republicans their national House majority. Now a convoluted legal case has likely handed Democrats a second chance to pass an advantageous map.
The state's highest court, the Court of Appeals, threw out the 2022 map on Dec. 12 and ordered the state's bipartisan redistricting commission to draw a new one by the end of February. Under state law, any commission-produced map must go before the legislature, where the Democratic supermajority could substitute its own version. A Democratic-drawn map could endanger five or six Republican incumbents.
FLORIDA: DEMOCRATS COULD GAIN ONE SEAT, BUT TIME RUNNING SHORT A state judge in September ruled that a map backed by Republican Governor Ron DeSantis violated the state constitution by shredding a Black district in north Florida.
The incumbent, Al Lawson, a Black Democrat, lost reelection by nearly 20 percentage points under the new map. However, an appeals court reversed the decision on Dec. 1, reinstating the DeSantis-backed map.
The state Supreme Court, where five of the seven justices are DeSantis appointees, has agreed to hear the case, but the tentative schedule calls for oral arguments no earlier than April - just weeks before the filing deadline for candidates. A separate federal lawsuit challenging the map as unconstitutional is also pending. A three-judge panel held a trial last fall but has not yet issued a ruling.
GEORGIA: REPUBLICANS, JUDGE PRESERVE STATUS QUO A federal judge in October found the state's Republican-drawn map violated the Voting Rights Act by diluting the Black vote. Following a trial, U.S. District Judge Steve Jones ordered lawmakers to add a district with a Black majority or near-majority, which was expected to flip a Republican seat to Democrats.
The Republican-controlled legislature, however, approved a new map on Dec. 7 that maintained the party's 9-5 advantage across the state's 14 congressional districts. The map includes a new majority-Black district but dismantled a separate district that had been mostly made up of minority voters, including Black, Asian and Hispanic voters. Jones ruled that the new map satisfied his order, despite objections from Democrats and voting rights groups.
LOUISIANA: DEMOCRATS WILL LIKELY GAIN ONE SEAT A federal judge found the Republican-backed congressional map illegally harmed Black voters and ordered a new map drawn to include another Black-majority district, which would likely give Democrats a second seat among the state's six. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to alter that finding.
In response, the Republican-controlled legislature approved a map in January that added a second Black-majority district while protecting the seats of the state's most powerful Republican U.S. House members: Speaker Mike Johnson and Majority Leader Steve Scalise. The map, however, endangers the reelection chances of Republican U.S. Representative Garret Graves, who represents the newly configured district.
ALABAMA: DEMOCRATS WILL LIKELY GAIN ONE SEAT In October, a federal court approved a new congressional map adding a second district with a large Black population, which will likely flip one of the state's seven seats from Republican to Democratic.
That move came after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a surprise decision that the state's Republican-enacted plan - which gave the party six seats in 2022 - diluted the power of Black voters, who make up one-third of the state's population. NORTH CAROLINA: REPUBLICANS WILL LIKELY GAIN THREE SEATS
The Republican-majority legislature in October approved a new congressional map that is expected to flip at least three Democratic-held seats to Republican in 2024. The new map was made possible by the state Supreme Court, after two conservative judges won election in 2022.
The court's previous Democratic majority had thrown out a Republican map as overly partisan. Under a court-drawn replacement map in 2022, Republicans and Democrats split the state's 14 districts. But the court's new conservative majority in April reversed the decision, ruling that state law does not prohibit gerrymandering, the practice of drawing districts to maximize partisan advantage.
SOUTH CAROLINA: DEMOCRATS COULD GAIN ONE SEAT The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in October over whether South Carolina's congressional map illegally diluted the power of Black voters. The conservative majority appeared prepared to uphold the map and reverse an appellate court's ruling that Republican lawmakers unlawfully redrew one district along racial lines.
The new map turned a swing district into a safer Republican one; the party won six of the state's seven seats in 2022. UTAH: DEMOCRATS COULD GAIN ONE SEAT
The state Supreme Court is weighing whether a Republican-drawn map that divided Democratic-leaning Salt Lake County into four districts violated the state constitution. The map transformed a competitive district into a safely Republican one, making it almost certain that the party will continue to hold all four of the state's seats.
Republican lawmakers were able to implement the map only after stripping authority from an independent redistricting commission that voters had approved in 2018. WISCONSIN: DEMOCRATS COULD GAIN ONE OR TWO SEATS
Democrats have filed a lawsuit asking the liberal-controlled Wisconsin Supreme Court to throw out the state's Republican-drawn map, just as the court did with Republican-backed state legislative maps in December. Republicans control six of the state's eight House seats, despite Wisconsin's status as a closely divided battleground. A revised map could give Democrats an opportunity to win one or two additional seats.
(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)