1819 News: New congressional map proposal for Alabama to be released Monday
By Caleb Taylor, 1819News.com
A new congressional redistricting map proposal for Alabama will likely be released on Monday.
Several maps were discussed at a reapportionment committee meeting Thursday afternoon, but most of the support for the proposals came from Democrats and progressive activists so it’s unlikely any of them will be what is passed by the Republican-controlled legislature during a special session next week.
No specifics were discussed about what the new map to be released on Monday might look like.
“We have been pretty much overwhelmed with maps coming in. We finally have adopted a set of guidelines that the committee can use to draw maps,” Reapportionment Committee Co-Chair State Rep. Chris Pringle (R-Mobile) said at the meeting. “We’re going to take those guidelines, and we’re going to take the input that we got today, and we’re going to take the input that’s come in through the internet. We’re going to have a meeting Monday morning at 10 a.m. to look at a map. We’ve been looking at all these maps and analyzing, wanting to hear what people have to say. Expect us to have something on Monday morning. We’ll get it to you as soon as we can but Monday we’re going to have a meeting.”
State Rep. Chris England (D-Tuscaloosa) said, “By the time we come into whatever meeting we’re having at 10 a.m., you’re going to hand us a map and then say vote on it.”
“The only map that’s going to be voted on is the only one that wasn’t vetted by the public,” England said at the meeting. “I don’t know how this process is designed to be open and transparent when the map that we’re all going to be voting on wasn’t done transparently in the open.”
One proposal supported by various progressive groups in the redistricting lawsuit who spoke at the hearing would make major changes to congressional districts in southern Alabama. Under the proposal, the first congressional district would stretch from as far west as Mobile County to as far east as Houston County. The second congressional district would lose Autauga and Elmore Counties and stretch from Washington County and the northern part of Mobile County to the eastern border counties of Russell, Barbour and Henry Counties. All of Montgomery County would be in the second congressional district.
Under the plan, the seventh congressional district would have a 55% black population. The second congressional district would have a 50.55% black population.
Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall said in a letter to the reapportionment committee’s attorney on Thursday the proposal “would likely open the State up to claims that it has violated the Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause.”
“As the Supreme Court held just two weeks ago when it declared Harvard’s race-based admissions policy unconstitutional, “the core purpose of the Equal Protection Clause” is “doing away with all governmentally imposed discrimination based on race.” The Court was adamant: “Eliminating racial discrimination means eliminating all of it.” It follows, the Court held, that “race may never be used as a ‘negative’ and that it may not operate as a stereotype.” But in Plaintiffs’ Proposed Plans, voters in Mobile County are divided from voters in Mobile City because of their race and because of stereotypes about how voters of certain races will vote. The “outright racial balancing” demanded by the Caster and Milligan Plaintiffs is “patently unconstitutional.” Neither judges nor Legislatures should be in the sordid business of “pick[ing] winners and losers based on the color of their skin,” Marshall wrote.
The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) upheld with a 5-4 vote a lower court’s decision to require the Alabama Legislature to redraw the congressional districts to include a second largely or majority-black congressional district.
Alabama’s seventh congressional district is currently the only majority-black congressional district in Alabama. It is held by U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell (D-Birmingham).