Lawmakers have to redraw district maps

Published 9:59 pm Wednesday, January 26, 2022

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Three federal judges have ruled Alabama must redraw its U.S. Congressional lines within two weeks.

The judges ruled on Monday, the state’s new Congressional districts maps violated the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and lacked representation for black voters. Alabama has seven congressional districts, only one of which is predominantly black.

Every 10 years, district lines have to be redrawn according to data from the U.S. Census. Alabama is required to submit its districts for federal approval.

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“It’s a pretty momentous decision,” political analyst Steve Flowers said. “It’s almost monumental. The black leadership filed a lawsuit in Huntsville for just the congressional lines. The state has a 26 percent black population. So, seven districts divides out to a little more than  14 percent population for each district. That’s what they hung their hat on and they won. The court ruled there had to be two black districts.”

Flowers said Attorney General Steve Marshall had filed a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court to look at the decision. But, Flowers said the doubted the Supreme Court would rule on it within the 14 days the lower court gave the state to redraw the districts.

The Legislature is currently recessed from its regular session and is in a special session to appropriate about $560 million from American Rescue Plan federal funding. Flowers said lawmakers will most likely address that on Thursday and then gavel back into the regular session on Tuesday and address the district maps.

About 60 percent of the state’s black population is in Rep. Terri Sewell’s District 7. The remaining 40 percent of the population is scattered across Districts 1, 2 and 3. Flowers said the new map would most likely be changed in the areas around Birmingham, Montgomery and the Black Belt to create a second predominantly black congressional district. Those changes could affect the 2nd Congressional District, which is where Pike County lies.