A federal court Thursday is scheduled to begin hearing arguments over the state’s new legislative district lines, and whether they strictly followed the terms of the Voting Rights Act or were an attempt to dilute black lawmakers’ influence on legislation. The lawsuit, bought by the Alabama Legislature’s Black Legislative Caucus, alleges that that a reapportionment plan approved by the Republican-majority Legislature in 2012 — and ultimately approved by the U.S. Justice Department — pushes black voters, who tend to vote Democratic, into a limited number of districts, and limits their ability to form coalitions with white voters. The Caucus alleges that violates Section 2 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which prohibits voting practices that discriminate on the basis of race.
“The packing of black voters in the 27 House districts and 8 Senate districts with black voting-age majorities has the purpose and the effect of politically segregating the elected representatives of African-American voters and of minimizing their ability to participate in the legislative process and to influence the outcomes of legislation,” said the original complaint, filed a year ago Saturday.
Attempts to reach attorneys for the state Wednesday were unsuccessful. The state has argued in filings that it had to address the state’s black-majority districts, which had lost significant population since the last round of reapportionment in 2001.