CASE SUMMARY

On February 23, 2022 a group of Tennessee voters filed a lawsuit against Tennessee's Governor, Secretary of state, and Coordinator of Elections challenging the state's enacted legislative redistricting plans as violating various provisions of the Tennessee Constitution. First, plaintiffs assert the state House redistricting plan "excessively divides" counties in violation of the Tennessee Constitution's interpreted requirement that reapportionment plans "cross as few county lines as is necessary to comply" with the equal population standards under the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Second, they allege the state Senate redistricting plan violates article II, Section 3 of the Tennessee Constitution because the Senate districts within Davidson County are not consecutively numbered. Plaintiffs are seeking a judicial declaration that the enacted legislative plans are unconstitutional, an injunction barring the plans from being used in future elections, and a court order requiring the General Assembly to remedy the constitutional defects in the plans within 15 days and imposing interim redistricting plans in the event the General Assembly fails to timely do so.

On April 6, 2022 the court issued an order denying the plaintiffs' request to preliminarily enjoin the state House plan, but granting it as to the state Senate plan. The court found the plaintiffs were likely to prevail on their claim that the Senate districts in Davidson County failed to comply with the Tennessee Constitution's consecutive numbering requirements. The court's order blocked the Senate plan from being used in future elections, directed the General Assembly to remedy the plan's constitutional defects within 15 days, and provided the court would impose an interim state Senate redistricting plan for use in the 2022 elections in the event the General Assembly failed to do so. The state defendants filed an appeal the following day.

On April 11, the Tennessee Supreme Court issued an order directly assuming extraordinary jurisdiction over the appeal. On April 13, the Court vacated the trial court's injunction, thereby allowing the Senate plan to be used in the 2022 elections, and remanded the case back to the Chancery Court. The Court's majority opinion explained the lower court panel "failed to adequately consider" the harm the injunction would have on election officials as a result of the candidate filing deadline being extended, as well as to the public interest in ensuring orderly elections and avoiding voter confusion.

CASE LIBRARY

Tennessee Chancery Court, Davidson County - No. 22-0287-IV

Tennessee Supreme Court - No. M2022-00434-SC-RDO-CV