The Supreme Court will debate Tuesday whether the Alabama state congressional map illegally harms black voters.
Following the 2020 census, Alabama created a new redistricting map for its seven seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. A group of Alabama voters, the NAACP, and Greater Birmingham Ministries filed a lawsuit alleging that the new maps limited the influence of black voters by placing people from “majority black counties … in majority white congressional districts in numbers low enough that black voters would have no electoral influence.”
They argue that the map should be redrawn so that Alabama has two majority black districts instead of just one, Congressional District 7 (CD 7).
Alabama is ready to argue that if the lawsuit prevails, the state will be forced to adopt an unconstitutional practice of prioritizing race when creating election rules, which is what the plaintiffs have accused the state of doing.
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The state adds that Alabama’s redistricting plan followed existing district lines and attempted to make “race-neutral adjustments for small changes in population over the past decade, but otherwise retained existing district lines.” .
But the plaintiffs say the demographics of the state mean Alabama needs to do more to give black voters a chance to elect a black representative.
“In the 20th century, black Alabamans have never elected a congressional representative from any district other than compact majority black CD 7. And CD 7 has only been a majority black district since 1992,” they argue. the plaintiffs. “As a result, Black Alabamans have the opportunity to elect a candidate of choice in only 14% of the Congressional delegation…even though they make up more than 27% of Alabama’s voting-age population” .
The issue before the court is whether Alabama violated Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, which prohibits voting practices or procedures that discriminate on the basis of race. The decision could help provide long-awaited clarity on how courts should interpret Section 2 in state redistricting cases.
The case was first decided by a three-judge panel in an Alabama district court in January 2022. The district court ruled, with two Trump-appointed judges, that the Alabama map likely violated Section 2 and le gave the state two weeks to redraw a congressional map that includes two majority black districts.
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Alabama filed an emergency appeal with Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, asking the court to reverse the lower court’s decision. The Supreme Court granted the state’s request, temporarily allowing the current maps to remain in place while both sides present their case to the Supreme Court, which they will do in oral arguments on October 4.
Justice Thomas has previously written that Section 2 “engaged the federal courts, and indeed the Nation, in the enterprise of systematically dividing the country into electoral districts along racial lines, an enterprise of segregating the races into political homelands that amounts to indeed, to nothing less than a system of political apartheid”.
America First Legal filed a friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of Alabama, arguing that “this court should do more than reverse. It should end our nation’s decades-long unconstitutional experiment with court-ordered racial segregation in the redistribution of districts”.
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But opponents of the Alabama map say it’s about diluting the black vote.
“These new maps weaponize race to undermine the political power of communities of color in Alabama,” said Davin Rosborough, lead attorney for the ACLU and co-counsel on the case. “These maps violate the Constitution and are contrary to the basic principles of fairness and representative democracy.”
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Adam White, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, told Fox News Digital that a favorable ruling for Alabama would make it harder for people to challenge state maps.
“If the Supreme Court overturns lower court decisions, that will reduce a lot of uncertainty around judicial redistricting review because people who want to challenge district lines will have to show much clearer evidence of discriminatory intent or effect,” he said. . “Then judicial review will be much simpler.”