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Supreme Court blocks Georgia PSC elections in case alleging racial discrimination

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) in Washington, D.C., on June 21. The U.S. Supreme Court Friday blocked state PSC elections, overruling a federal appeals court in a suit against Raffensperger alleging racial discrimination in PSC elections. Photo by Tasos Katopodis/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/c697cc1bfe5ade685d0a688bcdc6537d/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) in Washington, D.C., on June 21. The U.S. Supreme Court Friday blocked state PSC elections, overruling a federal appeals court in a suit against Raffensperger alleging racial discrimination in PSC elections. Photo by Tasos Katopodis/UPI | License Photo

Aug. 19 (UPI) -- The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Friday that elections for Georgia's Public Service Commission cannot yet happen, vacating a decision by 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta that would have allowed the elections.

At issue is a lower court ruling that said statewide Georgia PSC elections discriminate against Black voters. The Supreme Court ruled that the Appeals Court had erred in its decision to allow the elections.

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The Supreme Court order said the Appeals Court failed to analyze the case under the proper legal framework and must review it.

"The Eleventh Circuit may reconsider whether a stay pending appeal is appropriate, subject to sound equitable discretion," the Supreme Court order said.

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An Aug. 5 decision from the U.S. District Court in Atlanta blocked the statewide PSC elections.

That decision said, "The Court finds that this method of election unlawfully dilutes the votes of Black citizens under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and must change."

Plaintiffs in that suit included the Atlanta NAACP President Richard Rose, Black Voters Matter Fund national field director Wanda Mosley and minister, former Georgia NAACP President James Woodall, and Georgia Conservation Voters executive director Brionte McCorkle.

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The Atlanta U.S. District Court said racial discrimination in Georgia's PSC elections were evident, in part because, "In each of the six most recent general and runoff elections for PSC commissioners, Black voters supported the same candidate at a rate greater than 94%. Despite this strong cohesion, the Black-preferred candidate lost in all elections despite the Black-preferred candidate going to a runoff in two of those elections."

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