Tennessee's Redistricting

Tennessee's Redistricting News

Tennessee's Redistricting News (March 24, 2001-January 8, 2002)

All information below is from early 2001


Tennessee�s Political Lineup







State Senate

20D, 13R

18D, 15R

State House

57D, 42R

58D, 41R

US Senators



US Reps

6D, 3R

4D, 5R

Redistricting Deadline



Who�s in Charge of Redistricting?

The legislature. Generally, the majority and minority leaders in both houses prepare congressional and state legislative district plans. The governor has veto power over both plans.

Districting Principles 



State Legis.







Political subdivisions



Communities of interest



Cores of prior districts



Protect incumbents



VRA � 5



  + = required             - = prohibited

Public Access

Tennessee does not hold statewide public hearings, although individual representatives are free to get input from their constituencies. The public can attend open committee meetings, but there is no special effort to make the redistricting process more accessible to the public. There are no plans to use the Internet. Paper maps of introduced bills may be made available in the legislative library.

Political Landscape

The congressional plan was the result of only modest changes in 1991. Democrats controlled the process, but were unable to protect their partisan advantage in the 1994 elections, when they lost two seats that lean slightly Republican. With split partisan control in 2001, major changes are unlikely. Only one Democratic seat (Harold Ford�s CD 9) is completely safe if an incumbent were to step down.

Legal Issues

Tennessee�s 1992 house legislative redistricting plan was struck down in U.S. district court on equal population grounds. Tennessee tried to justify its 14% overall population variance with its need to abide by the state constitution and avoid splitting counties. The court refused to accept this argument in light of the plaintiffs� alternative plan, which achieved a variance of less than 10% and split fewer county lines.

A new plan, enacted by the General Assembly in 1994, was subjected to three challenges: a partisan gerrymandering claim, a state constitutional claim regarding the splitting of counties and a minority vote dilution charge. The court dismissed the partisan gerrymandering and the state constitution claims but considered the vote dilution claim. The plaintiffs lost after a trial.

Irregularly Shaped District
District 3

Irregularly Shaped District
District 4

� Southeast�Chattanooga; Oak Ridge

� Includes a few isolated, rural areas

� Republican in the 1960s and early �70s; then a 10-term hold for Democrats; Republican since 1994

87% white; 12% black; 1% Asian; 1% Hispanic

� Northeast and south central

� Includes 22 counties; rural

� Local needs can take precedence over national issues

� 1992 redistricting removed some Democratic voters, contributing to the 4th electing its first Republican since Reconstruction

96% white; 4% black


Contact Information

 Ellen Tewes

 Deputy Legislative Attorney

 Office of Legal Services

 G-16 War Memorial Building

 Nashville, TN 37219


 615/741-1146 Fax

 [email protected]

For more information:

National Committee for an Effective Congress' Redistricting Resource: Tennessee
-Detailed analysis and map of new congressional districts

EMILY's List Congressional Redistricting Report: Tennessee
-Tennessee Redistricting Chronicle


Redistricting Provisions 2000


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