By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Wednesday, November 25, the US Supreme Court sent the Alabama Legislative Black Caucus’s case challenging the State’s 2012 legislative redistricting plan back to District Court in Alabama for a new trial.
The Black Democrats argue that the redistricting plan passed by both Houses of the Alabama Legislature in 2012 unfairly suppressed Black voters power by “stacking” majority minority districts with as many Blacks as possible. This made the majority White districts much more favorable to Republicans since Black people in Alabama overwhelmingly vote for Democrats and virtually all White people in Alabama vote for Republicans.
Alabama Democratic Party Chairwoman Nancy Worley said in a statement, “The court’s ruling today is a victory for the people of Alabama, and confirms that the Republican-controlled legislature clearly used the redistricting process to increase their partisan power at the expense of the voters. It is obvious that the people of Alabama cannot trust the Republican leadership in the legislature to draw the district lines. The new lines need be drawn by an impartial court, and drawn in a way that truly embraces the principle of ‘one person, one vote.’”
Chair Worley continued, “The high court’s ruling confirms that the Republican-controlled legislature used the redistricting process to increase partisan power rather than represent the interests of the people of Alabama. This ruling also makes it clear that the people of Alabama cannot trust the Republican-controlled legislature to draw the lines in a way that honestly represents the public’s interests.”
House Democratic Minority Leader Craig Ford (D-Gadsden) wrote in a statement, “Letting the Republican-controlled legislature re-draw the lines would be like letting the fox back into the hen house! As Minority Leader, I am calling upon the courts to take this matter into their hands and redraw the district lines in a way that honestly represents the people of our state.”
House Democratic Caucus Chair Rep. Darrio Melton (D-Selma) said in a statement, “The Supreme Court ruling is a bold step to protect the values of our Democracy. The principle of ‘one person, one vote’ is a cornerstone to our system of government and our values as a nation: that every vote counts the same whether it’s cast by a corporate CEO or an hourly employee in his or her company. The current district lines drawn by the State of Alabama undermine that principle by diluting the strength of some votes while solidifying the power of others. I’m proud to see the Supreme Court instruct the lower courts to reconsider whether or not the district lines are racially gerrymandered, and I hope that they will rule on the side of liberty and justice for all.”
Rep. Darrio Melton is a Democrat from Selma and the Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus.”
Rep. Christopher John England (D from Tuscaloosa) wrote on Facebook, “The Supreme Court has remanded the Alabama Black Caucus case back to the District Court for rehearing. The case will have to be re-litigated using specific instructions on how the law in question will have to be interpreted and subsequently applied to the facts in this case. After reading the Supreme Court opinion, in my opinion, it is going to be extremely difficult for the lower court to rule in favor of the State of Alabama after the case is reheard.”
State Representative John Rogers (D from Birmingham) wrote on Facebook, “On the 50th Anniversary of the climax of the Selma to Montgomery march, the US Supreme Court rules in favor of the most important principle in our American democracy – ONE PERSON, ONE VOTE!!!”
The ruling sent the case back down to the District Court to be retried. The ruling did not deem Alabama’s redistricting unconstitutional, nor did the ruling state that Alabama must redraw district lines for both the State House and Senate. However the instructions to the lower court make it very possible that the District Court may choose to rule differently this time around. It is possible that the court could order Special Elections if the judge finds in favor of the plaintiffs.
If either party disagrees with the lower court ruling, the appeal would be heard directly by the US Supreme Court.