The Look in Brief

State Supreme Court overrules decision blocking Senate redistricting plan

By: - April 13, 2022 7:16 pm
The Tennessee Supreme Court Building in Nashville, Tennessee, is the historic building that houses the Tennessee Supreme Court offices and where the court meets when it is in session in Nashville. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2014. (Getty Images)

The Tennessee Supreme Court Building in Nashville, Tennessee, is the historic building that houses the Tennessee Supreme Court offices and where the court meets when it is in session in Nashville. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2014. (Getty Images)

The Tennessee Supreme Court lifted an injunction against a state Senate redistricting plan, allowing the election process to continue as scheduled.

In reversing a decision by a three-judge panel, the Supreme Court stated, “We conclude that the trial court erred by granting the injunction because it failed to adequately consider the harm the injunction will have on our election officials who are detrimentally impacted by the extension of the candidate filing deadline, as well as the public interest in ensuring orderly elections and avoiding voter confusion. We vacate the injunction and remand it to the trial court.”

The lower court had determined the Senate redistricting plan violated the state Constitution by failing to place consecutively numbered Senate seats in Davidson County.

The lawsuit filed by three Tennesseans, with backing of the Tennessee Democratic Party, remains ongoing but 

is not expected to affect this year’s elections because the qualifying deadline was April 7.

The Supreme Court reached down and took the case from the Court of Appeals – because of the matter’s urgency – after the state appealed the trial court’s decision.

The three-judge panel gave the Senate 15 days to draw a new redistricting plan, otherwise it would come up with its own plan, and extended the qualifying deadline for state Senate candidates to May 5. 

The state argued that the three-judge panel “failed to consider or even discuss the significant harm” its injunction placed on county election commissions, which are required to provide ballots to military and overseas voters and to potentially disenfranchise voters and hurt the “integrity of the electoral process.”

Supreme Court Justice Sharon Lee dissented in the decision, arguing the court “substituted its judgment for that of the three-judge panel rather than applying the correct standard of review for discretionary decisions.” Lee wrote that the judicial panel’s decision would have caused only “minimal disruption” to state and local elections. 

 

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Sam Stockard
Sam Stockard

Sam Stockard is a veteran Tennessee reporter and editor, having written for the Daily News Journal in Murfreesboro, where he served as lead editor when the paper won an award for being the state's best Sunday newspaper two years in a row. He has led the Capitol Hill bureau for The Daily Memphian. His awards include Best Single Editorial from the Tennessee Press Association.

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