COBB COUNTY, Ga. (Oct. 24, 2023) — Today, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), Southern Coalition for Social Justice (SCSJ), ACLU of Georgia, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (Lawyers’ Committee) and Schulte, Roth & Zabel LLP (SRZ), filed a motion for a preliminary injunction in the lawsuit challenging Cobb County’s racially gerrymandered school board map. The lawsuit was brought on behalf of individual voters, Galeo Latino Community Development Fund, Inc., New Georgia Project Action Fund, League of Women Voters of Marietta-Cobb and Georgia Coalition for the People’s Agenda, Inc.
The lawsuit, filed June 9, 2022, alleges that the Cobb County Board of Education and Georgia legislators used racial demographic information to “pack” Black and Latinx voters into three of the seven school board voting districts (Districts 2, 3 and 6), limiting the opportunity for voters of color to elect their preferred candidate.
The “packing” of Black and Latinx voters violates the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. This form of gerrymandering attempts to undermine a fair democratic process that is inclusive and representative of all Cobb County residents.
“We strongly believe that equality for voters of color is a non-partisan issue. Black and Latinx voices should be heard at the ballot when electing their school board members,” says Poy Winichakul, SPLC’s senior staff attorney for voting rights. “This is a crucial step towards ensuring the boundaries are redrawn with fairness and equal representation.”
“Today, we filed a motion asking the court to reject the racially gerrymandered maps passed in 2022 because they unfairly dilute the voices of Black and Latinx voters and do not fairly represent Cobb County students, parents, or voters,” says Caitlin May, voting rights attorney at the ACLU of Georgia. “Racial gerrymandering is unacceptable at the national, state, and local level, and these Cobb County School Board maps passed in an irregular legislative process are a disservice to the Cobb community and especially to students of color. We look forward to proving our case in court in time for the important 2024 elections, and will continue to work towards fair maps at every level across the State of Georgia.”
“Black and Latinx voters in Cobb County have a legal right to maps that reflect their political power, and that is why our clients filed this motion today” says Sofia Fernandez Gold, Associate Counsel at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “We look forward to proving our case in court so that voters will have constitutional maps in place when they go to the polls to elect their school board members next year.”
“After examining tens of thousands of documents and rounds of deposition testimony, the factual record in this case is clear: the Cobb County School Board map is a racial gerrymander, designed to unlawfully limit the influence of Black and Latinx voters in the county,” says Chris Shenton, a lawyer at Southern Coalition for Social Justice. “In response to that voluminous discovery, our clients filed this motion and asked the court to ensure that the next elections in Cobb County take place on fair, legal maps.”
“The people of Cobb County deserve an electoral map that accurately reflects their community—free from racial gerrymandering,” said Doug Koff with Schulte Roth & Zabel LLP. “We’re proud to support this committed team of civil rights advocates and leverage our extensive experience with litigation in order to protect the voices of Black and Latinx voters of Cobb County.”
In the motion, the plaintiffs request that the court stop the use of the current map before the next school board election, to be held on May 21, 2024.
For more information about Finn v. Cobb County Board of Elections and Registration, visit the FAQ page here.
Southern Coalition for Social Justice, founded in 2007, partners with communities of color and economically disadvantaged communities in the South to defend and advance their political, social, and economic rights through the combination of legal advocacy, research, organizing, and communications. Learn more at southerncoalition.org and follow our work on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
The ACLU of Georgia envisions a state that guarantees all persons the civil liberties and rights contained in the United States and Georgia Constitutions and Bill of Rights. The ACLU of Georgia enhances and defends the civil liberties and rights of all Georgians through legal action, legislative and community advocacy, and civic education and engagement. We are an inclusive, nonpartisan, and statewide organization powered by our members, donors and active volunteers.
The SPLC is a catalyst for racial justice in the South and beyond, working in partnership with communities to dismantle white supremacy, strengthen intersectional movements, and advance the human rights of all people. Learn more at www.splcenter.org.
The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to mobilize the nation’s leading lawyers as agents for change in the Civil Rights Movement. Today, the Lawyers’ Committee uses legal advocacy to achieve racial justice, fighting inside and outside the courts to ensure that Black people and other people of color have the voice, opportunity, and power to make the promises of our democracy real. The Lawyers’ Committee implements its mission and objectives by marshaling the pro bono resources of the bar for litigation, public policy, advocacy and other forms of service by lawyers to the cause of civil rights