Prof. Justin Levitt's Guide to Drawing the Electoral Lines

Tennessee

State Summary

Tennessee’s congressional and state legislative lines are both drawn by the state legislature, as a regular statute, subject to gubernatorial veto.

In the 2010 cycle, the Tennessee legislature passed congressional (HB 1558) and state House (HB 1555) plans on Jan. 13, 2012, which were signed on Jan. 26, 2012.  The legislature passed a state Senate plan (SB 1514) on Jan. 19, 2012, which was signed on Feb. 9, 2012.

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Institution:

Drawn by:

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Party Control:
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  Governor:

Key Info for 2000 Cycle

Primary governing law

Key Info for 2010 Cycle

Website

Primary governing law

Key Info for 2020 Cycle

Primary governing law

Data

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Institution

Tennessee’s congressional and state legislative district lines are drawn by the state legislature, as a regular statute, subject to gubernatorial veto.

Timing

Tennessee state law does not impose a particular deadline for drawing either congressional or state legislative lines, though candidates must file for congressional and state legislative primary elections by Apr. 7, 2022. [Tenn. Code § 2-5-101(a)(1)]  The legislative session began on Jan. 12, 2021, and is currently scheduled to end on May 6, 2021.

Tennessee law expressly permits redrawing state legislative lines mid-decade, before the next Census. For congressional lines, a state statute seems to prohibit redrawing the lines mid-decade, though the legislature could alter that statute if it chose. [Tenn. Const. art. II, § 4French v. Boner, 963 F.2d 890 (6th Cir. 1992); Tenn. Code § 2-16-102]

Public input

The legislature has not announced any specific plans for public input this cycle just yet.

Criteria

Like all states, Tennessee must comply with constitutional equal population requirements and must abide by the Voting Rights Act and constitutional rules on race.

For Tennessee’s state legislative lines, the state constitution further requires that districts of more than one county preserve those counties whole where possible.  State statutes noted in 2011 that it was the intention to split at most 30 counties to form state House districts, and that state legislative districts should be contiguous.  These latter criteria may also be altered by the state legislature.  [Tenn. Const. art. II, §§ 5-6; Tenn. Code § 3-1-102-103State ex rel. Lockert v. Crowell, 631 S.W.2d 702 (Tenn. 1982)]

2010 cycle

The Tennessee legislature passed congressional (HB 1558) and state House (HB 1555) plans on Jan. 13, 2012, which were signed on Jan. 26, 2012.  The legislature passed a state Senate plan (SB 1514) on Jan. 19, 2012, which was signed on Feb. 9, 2012.

The state Senate plans were challenged in state court, and upheld.  [Moore v. Tennessee, 436 S.W.3d 775 (Tenn. Ct. App. 2014)]

2000 cycle

The Tennessee legislature passed congressional (HB 274), state Senate (SB 197), and state House (HB 276) plans that were each signed on Jan. 17, 2002.

Though an early challenge to the 1990-cycle districts was filed in federal court in 2001 (and rejected), it does not appear that any of the plans actually passed by the legislature was challenged in court. [Crone v. Darnell, 176 F. Supp. 2d 814 (W.D. Tenn. 2001)]

Redistricting Cases in Tennessee

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Tennessee | State Trial | State Appellate | State Upper
Moore v. Tennessee
State court rejected challenge to state Senate districts
Last Updated Jan 10, 2014
Case Number

No. 12-0402-III (Tenn. Chancery Ct., Nashville); No. M2013-00811-COA-R3-CV (Tenn. Ct. App.)

Cycle 2010