Aug 20, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Supreme Court temporarily blocks Georgia law, ruling it harms Black voters

Photo by Nathan Posner/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The Supreme Court sided with Georgia voters on Friday and reinstated a federal judge's ruling that the current system disadvantages Black voters in violation of a federal civil rights law, according to court documents.

Why it matters: It forced this year's election for the state's Public Service Commission to be postponed so that a new system could be created for electing commissioners, according to court documents.

The big picture: The ruling was a rare example of the conservative Supreme Court siding with voters over state officials, CNN writes.

  • Typically, the courts refuse to make late changes to state election procedures even if those changes are necessary to address "illegal infringements of the right to vote," the New York Times writes.

But, but, but: But the exception was based on an unusual concession from state officials and may not have larger implications, the Times added.

  • Lawyers for Brad Raffensperger, the secretary of state, had promised not to raise the Purcell principle, which discourages federal court actions that would disrupt election planning close to an election, if they lost.

Details: The Public Service Commission, which regulates public utilities in the state, has five commission seats and each commissioner must reside in a specific district.

  • Black voters are a majority in one district, and voters from that area sued, saying that electing commissioners in state-wide elections violated the Voting Rights Act by diluting their power to elect candidates of their choice.
  • “If everyone in the United States got to vote on who Georgia’s U.S. senators would be, I don’t think anyone would think that the system was fair to Georgians," Judge Robin Rosenbaum wrote in a dissent in a previous ruling.
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