Local representatives weigh in on Supreme Court ruling to redraw Alabama’s congressional map
Published 9:00 am Friday, June 23, 2023
The Supreme Court ruled recently that Alabama’s new congressional voting map violated the Voting Rights Act of 1965 as it dilutes political power of Black citizens.
A committee has been assigned and will likely redraw the congressional map. State legislatures will be called to a special session from July 17-21, and representatives say it’s too soon to tell how the ruling may impact the county.
“I don’t know that it’s going to affect Alabama. I do think that Mike Rogers will still end up representing us,” said Rep. Debbie Wood.
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However, Wood said they will not know until they see the new map on July 17. The federal court hearing on the state remedial reapportionment plan will take place on Aug. 14.
The Supreme Court case was concerned with the redrawing of Alabama’s congressional voting map after the 2020 census. The new map only produced one congressional district with the majority population being Black voters.
“When this originally was done, there was a lot of time and effort put into trying to make everything as correct as possible to where everybody had the representation that they needed from their different congressional districts,” said Alabama Senator Randy Price. “So it was, I think, a little surprising to everybody that the ruling came down the way it did, but now that it is in front of us, we’ll have to address it.”
The next step will be for the governor to call the state legislature to a special session in Montgomery to address the changes. The population rate of Black citizens from the U.S. census was 26.8%.
The staff in Montgomery are working to address creating a second minority-majority congressional district, according to Price.
“That’s what’s required by the US court, and so that’s what we’ll do,” said Rep. Bob Fincher.
Price said more information should be available “in the next week or so, if not earlier.” Wood agreed that action needs to be taken as soon as possible. The court date to approve the new map will be July 20.
According to the U.S. Supreme Court opinion syllabus, the court found that the 2022 map violated the second section of the Voting Rights Act, which prohibits any voting practices or processes that discriminates based on race, color or minority groups.
“When the law speaks and tells us that we need to do something, we have to react just like we expect other people to, so we’ve got to get it right,” Wood said. “Two courts have ruled that it was wrong. So now we need to work in unity and get it right. That’s the way I feel. The quicker, the better.”
Redistricting happens as state populations fluctuate to balance the representation of citizens in the U.S. Congress. Groups with common minority interests are protected from being separated by the U.S. Constitution to ensure political power is evenly distributed.
If the districts are impacted, it may mean that some members of Congress will have to run again just one year after running and being elected for office.
“It’s going to be interesting for me and those that weren’t there 10 years ago when this was done, as to what the outcome is and how it affects those individuals and them having to run for office again,” Wood said. “I just can’t imagine.”