Court ruling against Alabama Republican map seen as partial victory for Black voters

"Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever. That's what [Republicans] are saying. Fortunately, the judicial system overruled them," said Svante Myrick, president of People For the American Way.

In a victory for voting rights advocates, a special master was appointed to redraw Alabama’s congressional map after Republicans in the state put forth a redistricting map that the court ruled violates the constitutional rights of Black Alabamians.

Svante Myrick, president of People For the American Way, told theGrio that he felt “joy” when he heard the news. 

Black Voters Matter Group Gathers In Selma For March To Montgomery
Marchers lead chants during the Black Voters Matter’s 57th Selma to Montgomery march on March 09, 2022 in Selma, Alabama. (Photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

“Voters go to the ballot box thinking of who’s going to improve their pocketbook, improve their streets, and keep them safe,” said the former mayor of Ithaca, New York. “Today made it clear why voters should also think about which judges will be appointed by the politicians they vote for.”

On Tuesday, a panel of federal judges rejected a newly-drawn Alabama congressional map that violated the Voting Rights Act.

In the 200-page court order, the judges stated, based on precedent, “We held that the appropriate remedy is a congressional redistricting plan that includes either an additional majority-Black congressional district, or an additional district in which Black voters otherwise have an opportunity to elect a representative of their choice.”

Alabama Republicans were given several chances to draw a constitutionally sound map, but since they failed to do so, the federal judges took matters into their own hands.

The three-judge panel stated in the order, “We have no reason to believe that allowing the Legislature still another opportunity to draw yet another map will yield a map that includes an additional opportunity district.”

“The Special Master and cartographer are DIRECTED to commence work…on a remedial map,” the order continues.

Earlier this year, the Supreme Court ordered Alabama Republicans to recreate a map that does not discriminate against Black constituents and includes two Black districts. Instead of complying with the Supreme Court’s terms, the newly drawn map included just one majority-Black district. A second district had a Black population of only 30% to 42%.

Myrick told theGrio that Alabama Republicans are sending a message that “they won’t take civil rights for an answer.”

The Supreme Court is seen under a clearing sky, Friday, June 30, 2023, after case decisions were announced in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

“Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever. That’s what [Republicans] are saying,” he said. “Fortunately, the judicial system overruled them.”

Myrick told theGrio that while this is a “victory — it is not a total one.”

“The Republicans in Alabama are presenting as many hurdles as they can, including closing polling locations, eliminating voting hours and early voting…to limit Black voters in the upcoming election,” he said. “A total victory can come next November when voters have their voices heard.”

In the coming weeks, Republicans are expected to appeal the judges’ decision, according to NBC News.

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