A group of Black voters in Georgia on Monday asked the Supreme Court to reinstate a judge’s order barring the state’s method for choosing members of a regulatory panel after the judge found it to be racially discriminatory.
The request comes after a federal appeals court halted an Atlanta-based judge’s order that Georgia devise a new approach to selecting members to Georgia’s Public Service Commission, which oversees the price of electricity and other utilities.
The order, by Trump-appointed U.S. District Judge Steven Grimberg, found that Georgia’s practice of using statewide, at-large elections to fill seats on the panel illegally dilutes the vote of Black citizens.
Under Georgia’s longstanding approach, candidates for the Public Service Commission must reside in one of the five districts they are running to represent, yet voters from across Georgia may cast ballots for all five seats.
The group’s request to the Supreme Court on Monday comes after the U.S Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit last week voted 2-1 to halt Grimberg’s ruling, finding it was issued too close to the November election, when two of the commission’s five seats are up for a vote.
The request by the group of Black voters was submitted to Justice Clarence Thomas, who handles emergencies matters arising from Georgia. They asked that the court block the 11th Circuit ruling before the end of the week to allow the state time to alter its electoral process ahead of the November vote.
“Georgia is home to millions of Black citizens whose voting power has been unlawfully diluted by the at-large method of electing Public Service Commissioners,” the group wrote in their Monday court filing. “That will continue for yet another election cycle unless this Court intervenes now to stop it.”