Supreme Court To Hear Redistricting Case Regarding Congressional Line Splitting City Of Montgomery

Supreme Court To Hear Redistricting Case Regarding Congressional Line Splitting City Of Montgomery

The U.S. Supreme Court is set to begin a high-stakes redistricting case on Tuesday, where an invisible line splits two of Alabama’s congressional districts through Montgomery.

The Associated Press reports the city, known for Rosa Parks’ arrest, the Montgomery Bus Boycott, and where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. served his congregation, is now at the center of a new test of the Voting Rights Act and the role race plays in drawing congressional maps.

The case concerns a challenge by voting rights groups who argue the state violated the Voting Rights Act by diluting the political power of Black voters and failing to create a second district where Black voters make up a majority of the population or close to it.

According to the AP, Black men and women make up 27% of the state’s population, but most are in just one of the state’s seven congressional districts.

“Our congressional map is not reflective of the population that lives in Alabama,” Evan Milligan, 41, one of several voters who joined interest groups in filing the lawsuit, said.

According to the lawsuit, the current congressional districts in the state leave the majority of Black voters with no chance to elect the candidate of their choice anywhere outside of the 7th district.

“This is just about getting Black voters, finally, in Alabama, the opportunity to elect their candidates of choice. It’s not necessarily guaranteeing that they will have their candidate elected,” Deuel Ross, senior counsel at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, which is representing the plaintiffs, said, according to the AP.

While the case is in Alabama, the practice of gerrymandering, drawing congressional and state legislative boundaries for a party to hold onto power, is a national issue. While both political parties use gerrymandering routinely, Republicans have used it in more states since the 2010 midterm elections.

As a result, they’ve been able to win a larger number of statehouse and U.S. House seats and have been able to push policies that do not reflect the opinion of most U.S. voters, including abortion restrictions.

In Alabama, the Republican Party dominates representation and is in charge of drawing congressional maps. GOP leaders in the state have been reluctant to create a second district with a Black majority that is sure to lean Democratic and could send another Democrat to Congress.

In January, a three-judge panel that included two judges appointed by former President Donald Trump ruled unanimously that the Alabama legislature violated the Voting Rights Act. In its decision, the panel said: “Black voters have less opportunity than other Alabamians to elect candidates of their choice to Congress.”

The panel ordered the state to draw new lines for this year’s midterm elections and create a second district where Black voters make up a majority or a near majority of the population. However, a month after that ruling, the High Court ruled in a 5-4 decision to allow this year’s elections to take place without a second Black district, saying the Spring primaries are too close.

Southern states are well known for their tricks to suppress Black voters, including Jim Crow laws. During the 2018 Georgia governor’s race between Democrat Stacey Abrams and Republican Brian Kemp, it was revealed that Kemp, who was Secretary of State at the time, improperly purged more than 340,000 voters from state voter rolls, which helped him defeat Abrams.