MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Today, the American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of Alabama, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Alabama State Conference of the NAACP, and Greater Birmingham Ministries sent a letter to the Alabama Reapportionment Committee to remind them of their legal obligations to comply with the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA) and the U.S. Constitution when considering how to draw the new legislative maps in the upcoming redistricting process.
Specifically, the groups stated that the Legislature must ensure that new maps:
- Are not drawn with the intent or effect of diluting minority voting strength;
- Comply with the “One Person, One Vote” mandate of the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause and Section 2’s “nationwide ban on racial discrimination in voting,” without using either as a pretext to engage in racial gerrymandering; and
- Preserve any effective districts that are VRA-compliant and also consider whether additional effective opportunity districts are required.
Tish Gotell Faulks, legal director for ACLU of Alabama, said:
“Given the significant increase in population numbers amongst communities of color in Alabama, we are sending the Reapportionment Committee this letter as a detailed reminder of their obligation to ensure that the public good is not sacrificed to self-interest and political parties in the redistricting process. In the past under preclearance, the Department of Justice filed over 100 objections that changes to Alabama’s voting practices or procedures had violated the Voting Rights Act. This redistricting cycle will be the first without preclearance since the VRA was enacted, so we will be closely watching the Reapportionment Committee to see whether they take heed of our warnings or continue the same patterns of creating racially discriminatory districts.”
Kathryn Sadasivan, counsel for NAACP Legal Defense Fund, said:
“Alabama has a long and well-documented history of discriminating against Black voters. The Supreme Court in Shelby County v. Holder weakened the Voting Rights Act's protections in Alabama by enabling election laws and electoral maps proposed by the state to come into effect without any prior determination that the laws will not principally disenfranchise and disempower Black Alabamians. This has put our democracy at great risk and will require the state to follow federal law without Justice Department oversight. Nevertheless, the Alabama Reapportionment Committee and the entire legislature are obligated to ensure state electoral maps are redrawn to ensure Black Alabamians have a fair opportunity to elect candidates of their choice and participate in the political process.”
PDF copies of the full letter, a one-pager explainer, and a handout on statewide census data in 2021 are available below.