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Special Session

Faith In Action Alabama criticizes new congressional map

The new map still contains only one majority Black district in opposition to the mandates of the federal court.

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On Friday, Faith in Action Alabama, a faith-based grassroots organization, condemned the Alabama Legislature and Gov. Kay Ivey’s approval of a new redistricting map that does not meet the mandates of a federal court order to redraw the map with at least two majority Black voting districts.

Last month, the United States Supreme Court in Allen v. Milligan ruled that Alabama’s 2021 congressional map violated the Voting Rights Act of 1965 because it diluted Black voting power. This decision also upheld a federal court’s prior ruling that obligated the Legislature to redraw a map that includes two majority-minority districts.

A special session was announced following this decision and had until the July 21 deadline to submit a new map. However, the new map still contains only one majority Black district in opposition to the mandates of the federal court.

“Many of our state legislators and Gov. Kay Ivey approved a new congressional map that contradicts the spirit and letter of the law of last month’s U.S. Supreme Court Allen v. Milligan,” said Dr. A.B. Sutton, Jr., chairman of Faith in Action Alabama. “Gov. Ivey and Alabama’s current legislative leadership are sadly trying to take us down a well-trodden Alabama byway – one that would lead to undermining the democratic rights of the African American community in Alabama. We will pray that our federal judiciary provides the needed courageous leadership to help strengthen our state’s democracy. A thriving democracy brings honor to the God of Liberation. Today our state’s leadership denigrated that spirit.”

The Republican supermajority debated internally on a map during last week’s special session at one point leading to separate maps in both chambers. On the last day of the special session, the Republicans decided to go with a plan from Sen. Steve Livingston, R-Scottsboro.

Livingston’s plan gives the 2nd Congressional District a Black voting age population (BVAP) of just barely 40 percent. It also lowers the BVAP of the 7th Congressional District from 55 percent to just over 50 percent. The 7th Congressional District is the district for Congresswoman Terri Sewell, D-Selma, the only Black congressperson from Alabama.

The new map is likely to be challenged in court but several Republican leaders including Ivey praised the map following its passage. 

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“The Legislature knows our state, our people and our districts better than the federal courts or activist groups, and I am pleased that they answered the call, remained focused and produced new districts ahead of the court deadline,” Ivey said after signing the map into law.

On Aug. 14, a three-judge panel will meet to discuss whether the map is viable.

Faith in Action Alabama said the map still contains the same violations as the previous map: “The SCOTUS decision declared that Alabama’s legislature violated the Voting Rights Act of 1965 with gerrymandering practices that diluted the political power of Black voters, and required the state government to draw in a new district that was composed mostly of voters of color. The new map approved by the legislature today contains those same violations.”

Patrick Darrington is a reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter. You can reach him at [email protected].

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