The plaintiffs in Allen v. Milligan formally filed their objections Friday to a new Congressional district map created by the state Legislature after the courts found the body’s first map to violate Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.
The new district map creates a district that has just 40 percent Black voting age population, far from a second majority-minority district. It also reduces the BVAP in District 7 from 55 percent to just over 50 percent.
“Despite a decisive ruling from the United States Supreme Court, the Alabama state Legislature not only failed to draw another majority Black congressional district, but pushed to dilute the power of Black voters in the only existing majority-minority district in the state. Black voters have been asking for equal representation for decades,” said Evan Milligan, executive director of Alabama Forward and lead plaintiff in the suit. “It’s simple math — Black Alabamians make up 27 percent of the state’s population — yet comprise the majority of only one of the state’s seven congressional districts. We knew that the Milligan decision would be the beginning of a lengthy and complex process to achieve fair representation. We did not know that these politicians would be so shameless in their disregard for taxpayer dollars or the rulings of two federal courts, both of which feature a conservative majority. Though disappointed, we are undeterred and will move forward in our pursuit of fair representation.”
Friday was the last day to file an objection to the new map, a week after its passage by the Legislature.
APR reported that the map is specifically ultimately designed to test the U.S. Supreme Court once again and take another swing at dismantling the Voting Rights Act after the first map was narrowly defeated 5-4.
The U.S. Department of Justice has also filed a statement of interest in the case.
Kristen Clarke, assistant attorney general for civil rights for the DOJ, and U.S. Attorney Prim Escalona of the Northern District of Alabama, filed the statement.
“Congress has explicitly vested the Attorney General with authority to enforce Section 2 (of the Voting Rights Act) on behalf of the United States,” the statement says. “Accordingly, the United States has a substantial interest in ensuring the proper application of Section 2. The United States expresses no view on any factual disputes before the Court, nor on any legal questions other than those related to applying Section 2 to the proposed remedy in this case.
The Department said a functional analysis of the new map is required to see whether a 40 percent BVAP is enough to give Black voters a chance to elect their candidate of choice.
“As the ability to analyze districts’ electoral performance has become more sophisticated, the Department of Justice has relied on functional analyses to determine whether a remedy will provide minority voters with the opportunity to elect candidates of their choice,” the statement said.
Democrats in the Senate lobbied a plan with a similar BVAP by essentially creating a Congressional district that only includes Jefferson County.They filed their own objection Thursday, saying that plan is the appropriate “opportunity” district, and not the Republican plan.
The sides have also suggested new cartographers to draw the map if the court once again finds the maps in violation and orders them to be created by a previously appointed special master. There will be hearing on the state’s new map on Aug. 14.