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Tennessee Supreme Court allows redistricting map to go through as planned

The Tennessee Supreme Court vacated an injunction against the map that was issued by a three-judge panel in early April.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Tennessee Supreme Court ruled to allow a controversial redistricting map to continue as planned in the state after a three-judge panel issued an injunction against it on April 6.

Plaintiffs said that the map was unconstitutional because it did not consecutively number four Senatorial districts in Davidson County, and many democrats accused the majority-GOP legislature of crafting an unconstitutional, gerrymandered map.

"There's absolutely gerrymandering going on," Rep. Gloria Johnson (D - Knoxville) previously said. "I mean, there's no question. Anybody who tries to deny that is just really embarrassing themselves."

The three-judge panel that issued the injunction said echoed her sentiment and gave lawmakers 15 days to fix the problem. Otherwise, they said judges would impose an "interim apportionment map" that would only apply to the 2022 election.

However, the Tennessee Supreme Court said that the panel did not adequately consider any possible harm that the injunction could have on election officials by extending the candidate filing deadline. They also said they did not adequately consider the public interest in ensuring orderly elections and avoiding voter confusion.

The injunction would have pushed back the candidate filing deadline from April 7 to May 5 so lawmakers would have the time to create new maps. However, the Tennessee Supreme Court said several county commissions already relied on the controversial maps when adjusting precincts, and changing the map could complicate voting in local elections.

They also said the change would risk election officials' ability to comply with the Military and Overseas Voters Empowerment Act, which requires states to send overseas servicemembers absentee ballots 45 days before an election.

The maps had already been signed into law by Governor Bill Lee and after the Tennessee Supreme Court's ruling, they will govern how the 2022 elections are held across the state.

Justice Sharon Lee was the only member of the court to dissent, saying she believed the Supreme Court did not apply the correct standard of reviewing the injunction.

Senatorial candidates now have until Thursday, April 14 at 4 p.m. to enter the race.

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