Alabama rushes to adopt new congressional map amid disagreement on what district should look like

by Ethan Kim
Alabama Congressional Redistricting

Alabama is rushing to create a new congressional map following a federal court order which states the need for a second district where the majority of voters are Black or a close approximation. However, the exact makeup of this map is under debate as legislators scramble to design it.

A special session is set to occur on Monday where Alabama lawmakers will strive to finalize a new map by the end of the week, as per the court’s directive. This instruction came in response to an unexpected decision by the U.S. Supreme Court that backed a lower court’s ruling. The Supreme Court affirmed that Alabama’s current congressional map, with only one Black majority district, likely infringes on the Voting Rights Act.

The plaintiffs, a group of voters who sued the state and triumphed at the Supreme Court, are proposing the creation of a second district with a Black majority population of 50.5%. However, Alabama Republicans, who hold significant majority in the Alabama Legislature and control the redistricting process, have not agreed to form another majority-Black district. They are suggesting districts with lower percentages of Black voters. The Republican-drafted map proposal will be released on Monday.

House Speaker Pro Tempore Chris Pringle, the co-chairman of the state redistricting committee, noted during a public hearing on Thursday that even among the plaintiffs, there is disagreement about the definition of an equal opportunity to elect candidates of their choice.

The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision upheld a lower court’s ruling that Alabama likely violated the Voting Rights Act due to having only one majority-Black district out of seven, in a state where more than a quarter of residents are Black. The judges granted Alabama until Friday to adopt and submit a new map for review.

Proponents of voting rights celebrated the Supreme Court’s decision, as they believe it will increase Black voters’ influence in the southern state.

The ruling has significant implications for Alabama, as it will lead to the state’s most considerable reshaping of congressional districts since 1992. That year, a court order required Alabama to create its first majority-Black district, leading to the state electing its first Black member of Congress since the Reconstruction era. This district has consistently been represented by a Black Democrat since then.

The imminent redistricting battle is underpinned by partisan politics. Alabama Republicans, who predominantly hold public office, have shown resistance to creating another Democratic-leaning district with a majority of Black voters that could potentially send another Democrat to Congress. However, Democrats are optimistic about the chance of gaining a seat or at least a competitive district in the Republican stronghold.

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall criticized the plaintiffs’ demand for a map that guarantees Democratic victories in at least two districts, stating that their proposed map seems to stereotype voters based on race.

Joe Reed, the chairman of the Alabama Democratic Conference, encouraged lawmakers to collaborate with plaintiffs on a redistricting plan. He emphasized that if the state’s lawmakers do not create a plan that the court approves, the court will develop the plan for them. “We know there will be two majority Black districts,” Reed stated.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Alabama Congressional Redistricting

Why is Alabama redrawing its congressional map?

A federal court ordered Alabama to redraw its congressional map. This decision came after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling which affirmed that Alabama’s current congressional map — featuring only one majority-Black district — likely violated the Voting Rights Act.

What is the deadline for Alabama to submit a new congressional map?

Alabama has been given until the end of the week from Monday’s special legislative session to adopt and submit a new map for review.

What does the federal court order stipulate about the new congressional map?

The federal court order stipulates that the new map should include a second district where Black voters are either a majority or a figure very close to it, giving them an opportunity to elect a representative of their choice.

What has been the reaction of the Alabama Republicans to the court order?

Alabama Republicans, who control the redistricting process, have not agreed to the creation of a second majority-Black district. Instead, they have suggested proposals with lower percentages of Black voters.

How is the Supreme Court’s decision significant for Alabama?

The decision has significant implications as it will lead to Alabama’s most considerable reshaping of congressional districts since 1992. That year, the state was ordered by the courts to create its first majority-Black district, leading to the election of its first Black member of Congress since Reconstruction.

More about Alabama Congressional Redistricting

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CapitolWatcher July 16, 2023 - 10:41 pm

Looks like a tough week ahead for Alabama lawmakers, big decisions to make. I hope they remember it’s the people they’re serving, not just their political careers.

HistoryBuff_101 July 17, 2023 - 12:20 am

Last major change like this was in ’92, huh? It’s a little late, but I guess better late than never. Lets see what history Alabama decides to write this time round.

SouthernBelle July 17, 2023 - 12:35 am

Finally, some justice! It’s about time Alabama had more black majority districts, we’ve been underrepresented for too long. But I do wonder… will the GOP really follow through?

JohnDoe2023 July 17, 2023 - 7:23 am

This is a tough one, i mean, every1 deserves a fair representation but it’s also important to ensure that we are not overly focusing on race. what’s the right balance here?

LibertyFan66 July 17, 2023 - 7:32 am

All this fuss over map lines. why not just let people vote, and the best candidate wins, regardless of their race or district. Isn’t that what democracy’s about?


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