Legal Move To Thwart Suppression Of Black Voters Revealed

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Two lawsuits have been filed in Alabama challenging newly passed state legislative and Congressional district maps that fail to fairly represent Black voters in the state. In the case of the Congressional district lines, the maps only feature one district with a Black majority, although Black residents make up over a fourth of the state’s population, and Alabama has seven Congressional districts overall. It’s a problem similar to what’s cropped up elsewhere with GOP-backed maps. In Texas, for instance, Republican leaders put a Congressional district map in place that gives both of the state’s new districts to white majorities — although non-white voters were responsible for the overwhelming majority of the population growth that handed Texas those districts.

As explained by a press release from the Alabama arm of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the new lawsuits in that state allege “that the newly drawn congressional redistricting map denies Black residents equal opportunity to participate in the political process and elect candidates of choice, and that both the congressional and state legislative maps result from racial gerrymanders that intentionally pack and crack Black communities in the state, which denies such communities equal protection of the laws.” Packing refers to concentrating certain communities within as few districts as possible, in order to limit their ability to substantively impact the selection of representatives. Cracking, meanwhile, refers to spreading members of certain communities across districts, diluting their voting power.

As the ACLU press release adds, the lawsuits “describe how Alabama’s new district maps violate the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, and how the congressional map also violates Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.” Those behind the lawsuits are seeking a block on the maps being implemented.

Plaintiff Evan Milligan commented, in part, as follows:

‘I have lived most of my life in Montgomery, in what was historically Congressional District 2 and more recently reclassified as District 7. On more than one occasion, the people in these communities have dramatically impacted the course of this nation’s history — particularly as to civil and human rights. The congressional map signed into law by our governor is based on a reckless ignorance of the lessons that history teaches. Even with the extended time provided by the delayed release of census data, our Legislature failed to study racially polarized voting so that their map-making decisions could be guided by an interest in protecting the civil rights of Alabama’s nonwhite voters. As a result, our representatives have chosen a congressional map that dilutes the voices of the very communities responsible for the state’s population growth over the last 10 years.’

Other legal challenges are also proceeding against suppressive GOP-backed maps elsewhere. Read more on the Alabama cases at this link.