MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WIAT) — A panel of federal judges has picked a new congressional map for Alabama with two Black opportunity districts.
This comes after the Supreme Court affirmed a lower court decision, striking down the previous map for diluting Black voting power by having just one majority Black district in a state where Black voters comprise about 27% of the population.
In the ruling, federal judges say this new map, Remedial Plan 3, gives Black voters a second district in which they have an opportunity to elect their candidate of choice.
Under the plan, both District 7 and District 2 are considered “opportunity districts.” District 7 is made up of 52% Black voters and District 2 has 49%.
The judges wrote that using the previous map could cause irreparable injury, writing that “discriminatory voting procedures in particular are the kind of serious violation of the Constitution and the Voting Rights Act for which courts have granted immediate relief.”
House Minority Leader Anthony Daniels said he looks forward to seeing Black voters better represented.
“We have to have someone with a voice that’s going to give a voice to, for so many years, the voiceless,” Daniels (D- Huntsville) said.
Daniels said the map isn’t perfect but will provide a chance at two Black Alabamians in the U.S. House of Representatives for the first time.
“It’s not exactly the way we want it, but it does give us an opportunity to be competitive in that particular race,” Daniels said.
According to the Special Master, a Black-preferred candidate would win 16 out of 17 times in District 2 and every time in District 7 under this plan.
The biggest changes to the current map are in the southern part of the state in Districts 1 and 2. The plan puts District 2 Congressman Barry Moore in District 1, represented by Congressman Jerry Carl.
The map also creates county splits in Mobile.
“It’s racially gerrymandered. I mean, if you come to Mobile County and look what I just looked at a few minutes ago, they split Prichard,” House Redistricting Committee Chairman Chris Pringle (R- Mobile) said.
Pringle disagrees with the map. He said it breaks up too many communities to achieve a racial goal.
“We’re going to look at the different counties that have been stretched and pulled and tugged on to draw minority districts,” Pringle said.
Secretary of State Wes Allen said his office will facilitate the 2024 election cycle with the new map.
Attorney General Steve Marshall said the following in a statement that included a side-by-side comparison of the legislature’s map and the Remedial Plan 3:
“The Voting Rights Act was created to undo gerrymanders, not create them. But ironically, the Act has now been used to separate what plaintiffs call “Black Mobile” from the rest of Mobile, and then join “Black Mobile” with Phenix City, roughly 250 miles away. Anyone who looks at the State’s map next to the map now imposed on the State can tell which is the racial gerrymander. That map violates the Constitution’s guarantee of equality for all. We will abide by the court’s order for the 2024 election, and we will continue to defend the State’s law in court for future elections.“