Tennessee Black Caucus preparing for redistricting battle

(WMC-TV) - The Tennessee Black Caucus is gearing up for a possible lawsuit over the redrawing of voter boundaries.

"The ad hoc committee itself that was appointed by the speaker of the house has no blacks, no browns, no reds, no women," said Tennessee State Representative G.A. Hardaway.  "It's all white males."

Hardaway is the president of the Tennessee Black Caucus.  He said Republicans are locking women and minorities out of the redistricting process, so the Caucus is bracing for a legal battle.

Attorney and Shelby County Democratic Party Chairman Van Turner said their legal grounds would stand on the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

"It was created to address discrimination and address things that were being put in place to prevent African Americans and other minority groups from being involved in the political process, holding office and having representation," said Turner.

Last November, Republicans regained control of the Tennessee Legislature for the first time since Reconstruction.  That gives Republicans control over how district lines are mapped out.

"If they come into districts that have been drawn which allow African Americans to have a voice, to have a vote, to have representation on the State Legislature, we're going to have to address it if they eliminate some of those seats," said Turner.

Hardaway responded to rumblings that the preliminary remapping would put him in the same district as longtime Democratic Representative Barbara Cooper.

"I don't have any idea because they don't want us to know what the other districts are going to look like," he said.

Tennessee GOP National Committeeman John Ryder said court challenges are part of the process.

"I think it's a lot of noise," said Ryder.  "I'm not sure there's any substance to it."

"There is no final plan at this time," Ryder added.  "But it would be my hope and expectation that the final plan adopted by the General Assembly would comply with the Voting Rights Act and the requirements of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution."

Ryder said there is ample inclusion because the state House and Senate will debate the maps in the State Legislature.  He added that Republicans have been more inclusive than Democrats in past years.

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