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Alabama Legislators Deny the Formation of a Second Predominantly Black Congressional District

by Madison Thomas
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Alabama Congressional Districts

Despite a recent mandate from the U.S. Supreme Court to enhance minority representation, Alabama’s legislators dismissed the establishment of a second predominantly Black congressional district on Friday. This decision may prompt another legal dispute over Alabama’s political districting.

Rather than complying with the Supreme Court’s directive, the Republican-majority House and Senate implemented a plan that elevates the proportion of Black voters in the state’s 2nd District from approximately 31% to 40%. This strategy, which received swift approval from GOP Gov. Kay Ivey, was devised as a midpoint between proposals featuring Black populations of 42% and 38% for the southeast Alabama district.

The legislators were bound to a deadline to approve new district boundaries after the Supreme Court in June validated the verdict of a three-judge panel. The panel concluded that Alabama’s current state map – containing only one Black majority district out of seven, in a state with a 27% Black population – likely contravenes the federal Voting Rights Act.

Critics, including voting rights advocates and Black legislators, argued that the plan perpetuates Alabama’s Jim Crow past by treating Black voters unjustly.

Eric Holder, the former U.S. Attorney General and current chairman of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, condemned the map, and the Republican politicians backing it, for echoing the racist attitudes of segregationist ex-Alabama governor, George Wallace. Holder emphasized that the plan audaciously challenges a recent decision by an inherently conservative U.S. Supreme Court.

Republicans justified their proposal by stating that it meets the directive to form a second district where Black voters can significantly impact congressional elections. However, critics countered that it ignores the panel’s instruction to establish another Black majority district, or something closely approximating it, ensuring that Black voters could elect a representative of their choice.

Republican legislators, who are averse to shaping a Democratic-leaning district, are speculating that either the panel will accept their proposal or that the state will win in a second round of appeals. They insist that the proposed map adheres to the court’s instructions and aligns with redistricting regulations.

Following the passage of the plan, the dispute is expected to promptly return to federal court to ascertain if Alabama’s congressional districts adhere to federal law and provide Black voters and candidates with fair chances in an environment predominantly controlled by white Republicans.

Black legislators from Alabama assert that it’s vital for their constituents to have a better chance to elect their preferred representatives.

Controversy over these changes to the 2nd District, a region strongly linked to agriculture and hosting military bases, has led Black legislators to suspect that state Republicans are attempting another challenge to federal voting law.

The Big Big News, using redistricting software, has analyzed that the proposed 2nd District, which was approved on Friday, has predominantly favored Republicans in recent statewide elections, with Donald Trump winning by nearly 10 percentage points during his 2020 reelection campaign.

Experts claim that the GOP’s proposals do not meet the requirements specified by the Supreme Court last month.

The Big Big News is funded by several private foundations to augment its explanatory coverage of elections and democracy. The AP is entirely accountable for all content.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Alabama Congressional Districts

What was the recent decision made by Alabama lawmakers regarding congressional districts?

Alabama lawmakers recently rejected the creation of a second majority-Black congressional district.

Why did they reject the formation of a second majority-Black district?

The rejection was seen as a move defying a recent order from the U.S. Supreme Court, which aimed to give minority voters a greater voice and increase their representation.

What was the proposed compromise plan for the 2nd District?

The compromise plan passed by the Republican-dominated House and Senate aimed to increase the percentage of Black voters from about 31% to 40% in the state’s 2nd District.

What was the Supreme Court’s order regarding the state’s political map?

In June, the Supreme Court upheld a three-judge panel’s finding that the current state map, which includes only one majority-Black district out of seven in a state that is 27% Black, likely violates the federal Voting Rights Act.

How did voting rights advocates and Black lawmakers react to the plan?

Voting rights advocates and Black lawmakers argued that the plan invoked Alabama’s Jim Crow history of treating Black voters unfairly and failed to meet the court’s directive for a second majority-Black district or something close to it, ensuring better representation for Black voters.

What did former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder say about the plan?

Eric Holder, the chairman of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, criticized the plan and the Republican politicians who supported it, likening it to policies that would make George Wallace, a segregationist former Alabama governor, proud.

What did Republicans argue in defense of their proposal?

Republicans claimed that their proposal complied with the Supreme Court’s directive to create a second district where Black voters could influence the outcome of congressional elections.

What happens next after the plan’s passage by the lawmakers?

The dispute will now shift back to the federal court to determine whether Alabama’s congressional districts comply with federal law and provide a fair opportunity for Black voters and candidates in a political landscape dominated by white Republicans.

What is the significance of this debate in Alabama?

The debate in Alabama over congressional districts is being closely watched across the nation, as it may set a precedent for similar fights in other states like Louisiana, Georgia, Texas, and more.

What do experts say about the GOP’s proposals?

Experts argue that the GOP’s proposals fall short of meeting the requirements specified by the Supreme Court for fair representation and minority rights.

More about Alabama Congressional Districts

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