Congresswoman Rep. Terri Sewell, D-Alabama, held a virtual press conference Thursday in reaction to the U.S. Supreme Court’s historic ruling in the case of Allen v. Milligan.
In a 5-4 decision the high court ruled that Alabama’s congressional district map diluted the voting power of Black voters in the state and violated the Voting Rights Act. Alabama will now have to redraw maps to include another majority Black district.
Alabama has a Black population of over 25 percent yet only one majority black district.
“Today was a historic win,” Sewell said. “Not just a win for the African-American voters in Alabama. It was a win for democracy itself.”
Sewell was celebratory and happy about the ruling but she stated the work must continue to restore the Voting Rights Act of 1965. In 2013, the Supreme Court ruled in Shelby v. Holder to gut a key provision in Section 4 of the VRA, the preclearance requirement. This required states that had a history of discriminatory voting practices to get federal approval before enacting new voting laws or changes.
Sewell stated she will again file in Congress the John Robert Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. This act, named after the late civil rights activist, was originally filed in 2021 and will create new requirements for certain states to obtain preclearance before making any legal changes to their voting practices.
The ruling will also affect Sewell’s district as it will force the Black Belt to be carved up to allow for another majority Black district. While the congresswoman would love to keep her current district she said it’s a small price to pay for more representation for voters.
“Would I love it to include Selma, Marianne, and Wilcox County, yes,” Sewell said. “But I know that’s not possible in order to create two majority [minority] districts. It’s a small price to pay to carve up my district in order to have two majority-minority districts.”