Tennessee Republican Gov. Bill Lee on Sunday signed a new congressional map into law that carves up a Nashville-based Democratic district three ways in order to expand his party’s advantage.
The new lines give Republicans a distinct advantage in eight of nine congressional districts, and they already forced Democratic Rep. Jim Cooper to retire after his Nashville seat moved from one that President Joe Biden won by 24 points to one that former President Donald Trump won by 11.
“Despite my strength at the polls, I could not stop the General Assembly from dismembering Nashville,” Cooper said in a statement a day after the legislature advanced the new maps.
The map’s adoption comes amid a fight for control of the House of Representatives before the 2022 midterm elections. Legislators in states across the country have drawn lines much more favorable to their party than in recent redistricting cycles, with maps in states like New York which could eliminate half of its Republicans in Congress and in states like Texas, whose map shores up every GOP member that was vulnerable in 2020.
Tennessee’s new map, however, could face a legal challenge from critics who say that it disenfranchises minority voters in Nashville. Similar rulings have appeared in states like Alabama and North Carolina, where the Republican-drawn map was thrown out by the state Supreme Court on Friday.
The North Carolina decision marked a win for Democrats, and it came on the heels of a near-identical decision in Ohio, where the state Supreme Court said the GOP map violated a voter-passed law stipulating partisan fairness for its new map.