MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WIAT) – A panel of judges in January ruled Alabama’s congressional map likely violates the Voting Rights Act. The state appealed, and now the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments on October 4.
The map lawmakers drew after the 2020 Census has just one majority-Black district out of seven. Plaintiffs in Milligan v. Merrill say it dilutes the voting power of Black voters in Alabama, who make up about 27% of the population.
“It disenfranchises them, it discriminates against us, and it dilutes our vote,” Alabama’s NAACP President Benard Simelton said.
Simelton says he’s hopeful the court will rule the map needs to change to account for race.
“There’s no reason it should not be considered. It’s a must that people look at race, especially African Americans, when they are drawing maps,” Simelton said.
But Republican lawmakers on the reapportionment committee say race was not a factor in drawing the lines and their map is in accordance with the law.
“We drew it race-neutral which the law told us we were supposed to do,” Rep. Chris Pringle (R) Mobile said.
Pringle co-chaired the committee. He says lawmakers would have had to violate other redistricting principles to make two majority-Black districts.
“If the Supreme Court agrees that race becomes the predominant and overriding factor in redistricting and we have to draw on race and not worry about compactness, contiguity or communities of interest, then we’ll have to go back and draw solely on race and apply other principles after that,” Pringle said.
The map was in place for the primary elections in May, as the court said in February there wouldn’t have been time to draw a new map with an approaching election.