Georgia Department of Law, from the office of Thurbert E. Baker, Attorney General


Statement of Attorney General Baker after Supreme Court Decision in Georgia v. Ashcroft

June 26, 2003

Today, the United States Supreme Court issued a decision in Georgia v. Ashcroft, the appeal brought by my office concerning the state Senate map passed by the 2001 legislature and signed into law.

I am gratified that the United States Supreme Court has agreed with our position in defending the 2001 state Senate map. We have always believed that the proper focus of the federal Voting Rights Act was to look at the impact on minority voters of a redistricting plan as a whole, not to pick and choose 2 or 3 districts to focus on. Georgia’s position was that the plan as passed by the General Assembly and signed into law had a positive impact on the effective exercise of voting rights statewide. Today, the Supreme Court agreed with our position.

Today’s decision provides clear direction to city and county governments throughout Georgia and the fifteen other states covered by the Voting Rights Act for future redistricting cycles. This decision should also save Georgia taxpayers millions of dollars. State and local lawyers will have clear guidance on what the law requires given the ruling by the Supreme Court today.

The Court has today reconfirmed the rights of minority voters to have an effective voice in the political process. At the same time, the Court makes clear that the state and the General Assembly should have room to make reasonable judgments about what is a fair election system. As long as the whole plan is fair and gives minorities an effective voice in the political process, the federal Voting Rights Act is satisfied.

In light of this ruling and the facts in the record, we will request that a judgment be entered in the District of Columbia court giving formal approval to Georgia’s 2001 state Senate map. We will move forward promptly to take the steps necessary to accomplish that result.

Now that we have received a decision in this case from the United States Supreme Court, my office has moved to dismiss the Governor’s appeal in Perdue v. Baker. The only relief that the Governor sought in that lawsuit was to force me to withdraw the appeal before the United States Supreme Court, and that issue has been rendered moot by today’s ruling. Therefore, my office today has filed a motion with the Georgia Supreme Court asking the Governor’s pending appeal be dismissed as moot.