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Court blocks Tennessee Senate maps in redistricting lawsuit

A lawsuit is challenging the constitutionality of Tennessee's state Senate and House maps.
A lawsuit is challenging the constitutionality of Tennessee's state Senate and House maps.

A court is giving Tennessee Republicans 15 days to redraw state Senate maps for legislative races this November, while allowing House maps to stand for now.

A panel of three judges with the Davidson County Chancery Court issued the order Wednesday. Republicans will now have about two weeks to redraw Senate maps.

Attorney Dave Garrison, who represents the plaintiffs, said it’s a big win for Tennessee voters.

“This is a victory for all Tennesseans who believe that the constitution means something and should apply. And the legislature who have been acting like the rules don’t apply to it, have to apply by the rules that apply to all of us,” he said.

The lawsuit was filed by three Tennesseans with backing from the state’s Democratic Party. They claim the maps violate the Tennessee constitution and don’t follow established guidelines. Republican leaders, including Gov. Bill Lee who signed off on the maps, have said they followed the law.

The courts have also extended the deadline for filing to enter Senate races to May 5. The original deadline was April 7.

Next Monday, the courts will hold a call to discuss setting a date for an expedited trial.

The court’s order was issued by Chief Judge Russell T. Perkins, J. Michael Sharp and Steven W. Maroney. Maroney dissented in part, saying he would not have blocked the Senate maps.

Meanwhile, the state’s new congressional map, which split Nashville into three Republican leaning districts, has not yet drawn a court challenge.

Blaise Gainey is a Multimedia Reporter for WFSU News. Blaise hails from Windermere, Florida. He graduated from The School of Journalism at the Florida A&M University. He formerly worked for The Florida Channel, WTXL-TV, and before graduating interned with WFSU News. He is excited to return to the newsroom. In his spare time he enjoys watching sports, Netflix, outdoor activities and anything involving his daughter.
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