Alabama Republicans have refused to create a second majority-Black congressional district, completely ignoring a ruling from the Supreme Court.
Last year, the state was ordered by a federal court to redraw its congressional map so that it includes two districts where Black voters make up majorities, “or something quite close to it.” The Supreme Court upheld the ruling last month, prompting a special legislative session to redraw the maps.
Despite the Supreme Court decision, the map proposed by the state House of Representatives only included 42 percent Black residents, and the map from the state Senate was only 38 percent Black. Neither would allow Black voters to win a congressional seat.
Kareem Clayton, a redistricting expert at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University, told NBC that his team tested the proposed districts using data from the last 15 elections. They found that the candidate preferred by Black voters could only win four out of the fifteen times under the House plan, and just once under the Senate's.
"The through line in both plans is obviously they're prioritizing keeping the Gulf Coast together, the very thing the Supreme Court said wasn't more important than delivering a serious, effective opportunity for African American voters," he said.
Marina Jenkins, the executive director of the National Redistricting Foundation, said in a statement that she would challenge the maps in court if they go forward. NAACP Legal Defense Fund attorney Deuel Ross, who argued the case before the Supreme Court, expressed the plaintiff's outrage and shock that the state would ignore court orders.
"This is exactly why the Voting Rights Act was first created — this sort of stubbornness of states," he said. "Even when a court says that they're violating federal law or the Constitution, they continue to fail to do the right thing. It's troubling, but it's part of a troubling history that has existed in America and Alabama for a long time."
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