Update on the Legal Challenge to Reapportionment by Cobb County under Home Rule
Cobb County’s Board of Commissioners (BoC) enacted a Resolution in October of 2022 that adopted the contents of the aborted HB 1256 as their recognized reapportionment plan for the apportionment of voters in the four Cobb County commission districts. This was done under a claim of authority under the Home Rule amendment of the Georgia Constitution. The county’s action was a rejection of the reapportionment maps that were approved by the General Assembly as HB 1154 and signed into law by the Governor in March, 2022.
The county’s specific claim is that HB 1154 was amended by the county as proved for in Home Rule Ga. Const. Art. IX, § II, Para. I.
Many Cobb County citizens felt that the BoC had exceeded its authority. Lawsuits were entertained as the means to reign in the unlawful act.
Current Status The focus is now on the suit for declaratory judgment. This is the essence of the case. The court will determine whether the county has acted within the law in its claim of Home Rule power to take control of redistricting for county commission elections. Both sides are currently submitting yet another round of briefs to the court specifically on this central question. The hearing on the declaratory judgement is set for November 20. 2023
Lawsuits Need Funding The cost of litigation is significant. Litigation began in late December with funding provided by several interested citizens. As of today, the total cost of the ongoing litigation is roughly $200,000. At this point, Plaintiff still does not have the declaratory relief being sought to end this matter and reverse the action taken by the Cobb BoC.
Your help is needed to meet the funding requirements of the lawsuits that are protecting the public interest from self-serving politicians at the head of county government. This is not a political campaign and is not subject to disclosure rules or limits. We cannot allow this action by Cobb County to stand as it opens the door for more lawlessness. To help please contact Larry Savage 770-690-0907 , 404-626-5397 [email protected]
Why should you care? : We often hear slogans about the need to “Hold government accountable”. This is easier said than done. In Georgia, elected officials in county government are subject to several state laws that affect the behavior of public officials in carrying out their duties. Unfortunately, county officials answer only to voters. With a 3-2 partisan division in the BoC, deviation from the restraints of existing law are bound to be tested as is happening in Cobb County. Voters often don’t know what the law requires and do not comprehend the significance of unlawful acts by their local officials. There is no authority that enforces the requirements of law on local officials.
If Cobb County officials succeed with their current gambit on reapportionment, you can expect that the idea will spread statewide. The novel use of “Home rule” power for redistricting allows the county (or counties) to sidestep the General Assembly completely in reapportioning commission districts.
Among the possibilities for Cobb County would be the elimination of the “Senior Exemption” for school taxes, and possibly elimination of even the floating homestead exemption that helps keep property taxes in check.
With the powers claimed under “Home rule”, the county BoC could even assert power to reapportion the Cobb County school district school board seats.
Nothing is too radical to consider if we lack the resources for a court fight. Now is the time to draw the line and see this battle through to conclusion.