US court: New Alabama electoral map still disadvantages Black voters

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A US federal court threw out Alabama’s newly redrawn electoral map Tuesday, saying it continues to deny fair political representation to Black Americans in violation of a Supreme Court ruling.

A three-judge panel said the Alabama legislature’s new map persisted in illegally watering down the voting power of African American citizens, effectively minimizing their ability to elect Black representatives to Congress.

It was the latest ruling in a battle across several states over gerrymandering, the manipulation of electoral maps to minimize minorities’ voting power.

While one of Alabama’s seven congressional districts is majority African American, in 2022 the federal court ordered the state to create a second one, to better reflect the state’s 26 percent Black population.

That, the court said, would redress the state’s deep history of drawing electoral districts to ensure the political dominance of white Alabamians, who are about 66 percent of the population.

In June, the Supreme Court upheld the lower court’s order to redraw the map, saying the old maps violated the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

But the new map, approved in July, left African Americans the majority in only one district.

In a second district, the Black population was 39 percent, not enough to satisfy the court’s order, the court ruled.

The judges said they were “disturbed” that the legislature not only delayed redistricting but “did not even nurture the ambition” to find a solution.

The judges ordered the assignment of an outside “special master” to take over the job of redrawing the map to satisfy the court’s demands.

“The law requires the creation of an additional district that affords Black Alabamians, like everyone else, a fair and reasonable opportunity to elect candidates of their choice,” they said.

The fight, and fights like it in other states, could impact the balance in Congress in next year’s elections.

Of Alabama’s seven representatives, six are white Republicans, and the seventh is a Black Democrat.

The state’s two senators are both white Republicans.


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Agence France-Presse (AFP) is a French international news agency headquartered in Paris, France. Founded in 1835 as Havas, it is the world's oldest news agency.

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