Race did not predominate in alternative legislative maps created by the Alabama Democratic Conference, the group argued in a brief filed last month in the ongoing legal battle over the state’s House and Senate district boundaries. The filing responded to a state brief that called the ADC and Legislative Black Caucus’ proposals “bizarre” and accused the plaintiffs, suing to overturn the 2012 legislative map, of creating their own racial quotas. The ADC brief said their mapmaker followed standard practice in drawing maps, and said the Legislature’s approach “entrenches . . . racial divisions. The Supreme Court has made clear that race predominates when significant numbers of voters are moved by race at the boundaries of districts – and this is precisely what the State did – even as the ADC plans demonstrate that it is not necessary to do so to end up with districts that have the black population percentages that these districts do,” said the brief, filed on Nov. 24.
Like many other Republican-controlled Legislatures in the South, the Alabama Legislature in 2012 approved a redistricting map with strict standards, not allowing a district’s population to go over or under one percent of the ideal. GOP cartographers said they were trying to conform with Section 5 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which requires the U.S. Department of Justice to review changes in areas with histories of voting discrimination, like Alabama. Legislators also said they were trying to restore population in majority-minority districts, many of which saw declines between 2000 and 2010.
Black lawmakers noted the high percentage of minority voters in the new districts, and accused Republicans of “packing and stacking” them in a handful of districts. That, they said, limited their ability to form coalitions, and muted their voice in the political process.
A three-judge panel upheld the maps in 2013. The U.S. Supreme Court in March ordered the judges to reconsider, saying that they needed to look at the maps on a district-by-district basis. Writing for the majority, Justice Stephen Breyer wrote that the harms of gerrymandering were “personal.”
Full Article: ADC: Ala. legislative map ‘entrenches’ racial divisions.