Federal Judges To Draw New Congressional District In Alabama After GOP Lawmakers Refuse
Following Alabama’s months-long refusal to draw new congressional lines rendering Black voters the majority, federal judges will establish a second district themselves to increase Black voter turnout, the Associated Press reports.
The three-judge panel announced the decision September 5, over a year after a federal court first ruled that Alabama must draft a second congressional map to better represent the state’s Black voting age population.
“This is a significant step toward equal representation for Black Alabamians,” said former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, chairman of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee.
In Jan. 2022, Alabama faced off against the federal court after being sued by progressive rights groups, including ACLU of Alabama and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. Plaintiffs claimed that the state’s current district lines kept Black voters from choosing their desired representatives.
The state subsequently appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, alleging intentional discrimination and claiming that districts should not account for race. However, the Supreme Court affirmed the initial decision and Alabama was instructed to create a new congressional map. Still, despite the ruling, state lawmakers attempted to draft only one congressional district with a majority-Black population.
Alabama has been involved in an ongoing conflict surrounding voter rights for well over a year, much to the dismay of civil rights groups and Democratic leaders.
In June, the Supreme Court voted to uphold the Voting Rights Act, which requires that majority Black states’ congressional maps represent its population. This came after a concentrated GOP-led campaign to abolish the measure. As the battle of wills between Alabama Republican lawmakers and the state’s Black constituents and progressive rights groups continues, the state of upcoming elections within the region, which is steadily approaching, remains unclear.