Supreme Court tells Georgia to put a hold on Public Service Commission elections

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Friday that Georgia’s Public Service Commission elections should be put on hold until the state can fix its unusual voting system.  

The PSC regulates the state’s public utilities and sets utility rates. Under Georgia’s system, commissioners run statewide but must live in one of five districts. 

The current case began when a group of prominent Black leaders sued the state, claiming the Republican-controlled General Assembly approved a redistricting plan last March that dilutes the Black vote in two of the five PSC districts. 

Initially, a lower federal court ruled that Georgia must put its PSC elections – originally scheduled for November – on hold until the state can reform its system for electing the commissioners.  

The state appealed to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The appellate court reversed the lower court’s decision, saying the PSC elections could proceed as planned.  

The challengers appealed that decision to the U.S. Supreme Court last week.  

In vacating the appellate court ruling Friday, the Supreme Court left the door open for the appellate court to consider certain additional challenges but not any revolving around the timing of the election. 

“We are pleased that the Supreme Court took this important step toward ensuring that this November’s PSC elections are not held using a method that unlawfully dilutes the votes of millions of Black citizens in Georgia,” said Nico Martinez, one of the lawyers for the challengers.  

 “We look forward to presenting the merits of our case on appeal and are confident the district court’s well-reasoned decision will ultimately be upheld.” 

This story is available through a news partnership with Capitol Beat News Service, a project of the Georgia Press Educational Foundation.  

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