Federal Court Rules Alabama Republicans Discriminated Against Black Voters With New Electoral Maps

A man holds a sign featuring the late congressman John Lewis during a ‘Votercade’ from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, in May 2021. Photograph: Sue Dorfman/Zuma Wire/Rex/Shutterstock

Alabama Republicans illegally discriminated against Black voters when they drew the state’s seven new congressional districts last year and must quickly redraw the plan, a federal court has ruled.

The ruling is hugely consequential, a blunt assessment of the way lawmakers use their power to draw district lines to dilute the influence of Black and other minority voters.

Pending lawsuits in North Carolina and Texas similarly allege that lawmakers illegally drew districts on the basis of race.

About a quarter of Alabama’s population is Black but there is only one congressional district in the state where Black voters make up a majority.

Plaintiffs who sued in September argued it was possible to draw a second district where Black voters made up a sizable enough portion to elect the candidate of their choice.

A three-judge panel agreed on Monday, saying the state plan probably violated section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. That provision of the law outlaws voting practices that discriminate on the basis of race.

“Black voters have less opportunity than other Alabamians to elect candidates of their choice to Congress,” Stanley Marcus, a judge on the US court of appeals for the 11th circuit, wrote for an unanimous panel.

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SOURCE: The Guardian, Sam Levine