In Spring 2022, leftist political activists were unable to prevent the Georgia General Assembly and Governor from exercising their lawful authority to approve Cobb County School District’s new election posts for the Cobb County Board of Education. Last fall, those same political activists tried to achieve those goals a different way – by filing a lawsuit against the Cobb County Board of Elections, a politically appointed body in Cobb County charged with overseeing county election procedures.
Throughout this lawsuit, attorneys for the Cobb County Board of Elections maintained – and still maintain – that the lawsuit should be brought against the Georgia General Assembly as the Cobb Board of Elections had no authority to draw school board election posts.
The lawsuit almost entirely consisted of false allegations of racial discrimination against the Cobb County School District and members of the Cobb County Board of Education.
The Board of Elections, made up of 4 Democrats and 1 Republican, publicly stated it would not oppose the lawsuit, and as a result, after months of failing to mount any defense, the Cobb County School District was forced to intervene in the lawsuit, requesting the United States District Court dismiss the lawsuit.
After the District joined the lawsuit, the Cobb County Commissioners appointed a new member to the Board of Elections, a self-described “Democratic party activist” who has actively campaigned to remove the Cobb County Superintendent and Republican members of the Board of Education.
This spring, the District sought total dismissal of the lawsuit. On July 18, Judge Ross of the United States District Court found the plaintiffs presented no evidence of racial discrimination by the District or members of the Board and dismissed the District; however, she did not dismiss the Board of Elections.
Instead of defending against the lawsuit, last week, in a 4-1 vote along political party lines, the Cobb County Board of Elections directed its attorneys to settle the lawsuit with the plaintiffs, alleging that such a settlement was “less expensive” than defending against the lawsuit.
This is not a settlement but a total surrender by the Elections Board.
The Elections Board essentially agreed they would not oppose any new election map the plaintiffs requested. To accomplish this end run around the legislative process, the Elections Board agreed in writing that:
- it will not defend the lawsuit,
- not oppose plaintiffs’ claims,
- not put up any evidence,
- not take any depositions,
- not examine any witnesses,
- not present any evidence,
- not oppose or object to any of the plaintiffs’ evidence, testimony, or motions,
- not present any argument or even comment at any hearing,
- not join in any motions with any other entity, agency, intervenor or party, not challenge any remedial map the plaintiffs propose, and
- it waived all rights of appeal.
This hasty settlement by the Elections Board, which they worked out in secrecy with their politically allied plaintiffs, is designed to avoid any legal effort to defend the current map.
This kind of “settlement agreement” is utterly unprecedented.
This agreement is a complete usurpation of the legislative process.
This carefully constructed partnership with the Elections Board has paved an unobstructed path for the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) to impose their will over the Legislature, the Governor, and the voters of Cobb County.
For context, over the last number of election cycles, in addition to a number of other political maneuvers, the Southern Poverty Law Center created political ads in an attempt to defeat current Cobb County board members. After they discovered they could not change the direction of education in our county at the ballot box, they manufactured this unlawful court case.
To justify what they have done, the Elections Board says it is cheaper to give up than to defend the map against the array of liberal activist groups affiliated with Stacey Abrams and the Democratic Party.
Frankly, that explanation is just absurd. The long-term costs to the school system, parents, students, and staff, and indeed to all Cobb County citizens, of allowing a partisan takeover of the School Board through a gerrymandered map far outweigh any legal expenses to defend this critical lawsuit.
The other justification for the settlement the Elections Board points to is equally specious. They claim the General Assembly will have an opportunity to pass a new map governing school board member election posts. However, as the Elections Board is well aware, the legislative session begins in January, and the settlement agreement provides only a very limited window of time – one that the Legislature almost certainly cannot meet. At that point, according to the settlement agreement, the Federal Court Judge will determine the Cobb County Board of Education’s election post maps, and only the plaintiffs will be allowed to propose a map for the Court to consider.
The actions of the Elections Board violated both their duty to protect the democratic process and a valid act of the State legislature. This is a dangerous precedent in which any politically partisan group, unhappy with an election outcome, election statute, or county election map, can simply sue a compliant Elections Board who then can concoct a “settlement” giving the partisans whatever they want and could not obtain in the democratic process.
We do not believe this collusion between the plaintiffs and the Democrat-controlled Board of Elections is valid, and it ultimately will be overturned. We will continue all legal efforts to redress this wrong.
Sincerely, the Law Offices of Freeman, Mathis, and Gary.