“How dare the Black people we’ve disenfranchised for decades try and use a rare Supreme Court win to gain something approaching equal rights?!?!”
That’s the basic gist of a letter that the Alabama Attorney General sent to a legislative reapportionment committee last week. The letter was filled with misinterpretations and fuzzy math, and it sought to require of the plaintiffs in Milligan v. Allen something that the state has never achieved – racial indifference.
Hell, forget “achieved.” The state has never even aspired to racial indifference when drawing voting maps. And all the evidence you would ever need of that you can find by simply looking at the maps.
Like the one that the current U.S. Supreme Court – the same far-right bunch that overturned Roe and killed affirmative action – said purposefully disenfranchises Black voters in Alabama by packing them into a single majority-minority district.
The court demanded that Alabama lawmakers go back to the drawing board and come up with a second district in which minority voters make up a majority or “something close to it.”
This ain’t hard.
Alabama has a Black population of 27 percent. If you have seven congressional districts, as Alabama does, you need two of those (28 percent) to be majority-minority in order to achieve something close to proper representation. Particularly when the most recent census figures show that the percentage of Black citizens is growing faster than white citizens.
And that’s what all of this – the gerrymandering, the AG’s letter, the entire march to the Supreme Court – is about: slowing the growing influence of Black voters on state elections.
And it’s why Alabama’s AG is so upset.
Because he thought he had a cakewalk victory to do just that.
And then he lost. Bigly.
He somehow lost despite having judges leaning his way. He lost despite the judges trying desperately to get him to reshape the state’s argument before the court, to make it more palatable and not quite so overtly racist.
And still, somehow, he lost.
So, here he is, like that neighborhood kid who kept making up excuses when he lost so he could get one more chance for a do-over, trying to save a little face with an embarrassing letter that attempts to rewrite facts and give cover to Alabama Republicans who want to carry on with the same discrimination that every federal court has knocked down.
In that letter, the AG repeatedly asserts that the plaintiffs in the Milligan case were willing to accept voting maps in which minority voters did not make up a majority, and in some cases were around 40 percent. The plaintiffs repeatedly referenced these maps, the AG whined in his letter.
And it’s true. The plaintiffs did reference those maps in court filings and in comments before the courts, but they did so in the context of a complicated and nuanced trial. They referenced the maps, in some instances, simply to show that some aspects of the state’s argument didn’t make sense, because even the worst maps presented by the plaintiffs were far better than the map that state lawmakers ultimately adopted.
“Now that they have secured an affirmance from the Supreme Court, Plaintiffs are looking for much more,” the AG lamented.
Why … the unmitigated gall of these Black citizens looking for equal voting rights! How dare they follow what the Supreme Court ruled?
What an embarrassing letter for a state AG to write in 2023 – bemoaning the fact that Black citizens who have been wrongly denied equal voting rights are now unwilling to accept slightly better but still unequal voting rights.
A decent human and decent AG would be standing before the people of this state promising that all people, regardless of race, will be treated equally and fairly and that the state would follow the rule of the Supreme Court and the constitution.
But not ours. Because ours understands that his pathway to future political success involves placating racists, pandering to them even, and denying the citizens he’s sworn to serve the most basic rights.
The fact is the Milligan plaintiffs have put forth a map that is fair and as race neutral as possible. It also upholds a number of basic redistricting rules, such as keeping districts and communities whole, and meets all the required percentages.
The problem with the map is that it doesn’t bode well for Republicans keeping six of the seven congressional seats. Not because the Milligan map is drawn for Democrats, but because it ensures Black Alabamians have a true opportunity to elect a candidate of their choice in a second district.
And that’s a problem for Republicans because for years they’ve leaned into racism and discrimination, protected confederate monuments and holidays devoted to slaveholders, passed legislation that disenfranchised Black voters and attempted to eliminate the teaching of accurate American history.
The Supreme Court didn’t want Alabama to create a second Democratic district. It said to simply treat Black Alabamians fairly in the map-drawing process and create a second district in which Black Alabamians have an opportunity to elect a candidate of their choosing. That creating such a district almost guarantees that those citizens will elect a Democrat is a product of Republican behavior for years.
Like how the AG is acting now.