Defying Supreme Court, Alabama Republicans Persist In Racial Gerrymander
Democrats and voting rights advocates are accusing Alabama Republicans of flagrantly ignoring a Supreme Court ruling that the state’s congressional map was an illegal racial gerrymander and that the state needed to redraw its congressional districts to comply with the Voting Rights Act.
In June, the Supreme Court said that the GOP-controlled Legislature was in violation of the VRA when it designed the state’s congressional districts in a way that spread out Black voters among multiple districts, thus diluting their voting power and violating Section 2 of the landmark civil rights legislation. That section states, “No voting qualification or prerequisite to voting, or standard, practice, or procedure shall be imposed or applied by any State or political subdivision to deny or abridge the right of any citizen of the United States to vote on account of race or color.”
In its 5-4 ruling in Allen v. Milligan, the Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling that Alabama’s current congressional map violates this section of the VRA and must be redrawn to include “two districts in which Black voters either comprise a voting-age majority or something quite close.”
However, the Republican-controlled Legislature did not comply with that order.
Instead, on July 21, the court-imposed deadline to pass a new map, the Legislature approved a new plan that still only had one majority-Black district. In the second new district the Legislature created, Black voters comprise just 39.93% of the voting-age population — far short of a majority.
The NAACP Legal Defense Fund, which is representing the plaintiffs who initially sued the state over the congressional map, said the new maps are unsatisfactory.
“[Alabama’s new map] fails to remedy the Voting Rights Act violation identified by the Supreme Court. Our clients will be returning to court to challenge it,” Deuel Ross, a racial justice attorney at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, tweeted.
Former Attorney General Eric Holder compared current Republican Alabama lawmakers to George Wallace, the former Alabama governor who refused to desegregate schools and vowed during his inaugural speech in 1963, “In the name of the greatest people that have ever trod this earth, I draw the line in the dust and toss the gauntlet before the feet of tyranny, and I say segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever.”
“George Wallace would be proud of Alabama Republicans today,” Holder tweeted.
Rep. Terri Sewell, the only Democrat in Alabama’s seven-member House delegation, accused Republicans in the state of shamelessly ignoring the Supreme Court’s order.
“This map does not comply with the Supreme Court’s order and is an insult to Black voters across our state,” Sewell tweeted. “I fully expect that it will be rejected by the courts.”
The three-judge panel of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama that initially said Alabama’s map is in violation of the VRA will hold a hearing on Aug. 14 about the newly passed map. If the court finds the Legislature did not follow the ruling, it could appoint a special master to redraw the maps.
Reprinted with permission from American Independent.