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Opinion: Court likely to gerrymander Alabama congressional map

Last Tuesday, a federal court struck down the congressional maps passed by the Alabama Legislature. 

It was a decision that wasn’t surprising to many as the court had ordered the creation of a second majority-minority district to give black voters an opportunity to elect a candidate of their choice.

The judges said they are “deeply troubled that the State enacted a map that the State readily admits does not provide the remedy we said federal law requires.”

U.S. Circuit Judge Stanley Marcus, U.S. District Judge Anna Manasco, and U.S. District Judge Terry Moorer continued to say, “We are not aware of any other case in which a state legislature — faced with a federal court order declaring that its electoral plan unlawfully dilutes minority votes and requiring a plan that provides an additional opportunity district — responded with a plan that the state concedes does not provide that district. 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. The 2023 Plan plainly fails to do so.”

The Voting Rights Act of 1965 prohibits voting practices or procedures that discriminate on the basis of race, color, or membership in one of the language minority groups.

Therefore, a federal court will be appointing a special master to redraw the lines and create district maps the court will find more appealing

Opponents of the plaintiff’s redistricting plan believe the goal is to make Alabama’s Second Congressional District majority black, thereby giving the Democrats that congressional seat.

So that begs the question, who is the person that the Democrats want in the Second District?

There has been speculation the Democrats’ preferred candidate will be Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed.

In Montgomery, it’s almost a foregone conclusion that Reed wants the seat, but desperately needs the courts to gerrymander the district for him to win.

There are 11 plaintiff plans for redistricting and you can find them here.

In every variation of the redistricting plans put forward by the plaintiffs, with only one exception, Coffee County gets moved into the First Congressional District.

Coffee County is where U.S. Rep. Barry Moore lives.

The new lines will likely move him into the first district and pit him against Rep. Jerry Carl, therefore paving the way for Reed to run for Congress in the new Second Congressional District.

During an interview on “The Jeff Poor Show”, Alabama Speaker of the House Nathaniel Ledbetter said, “It’s a little confusing because they don’t want us to gerrymander those districts, but then they ask us to gerrymander them.”

This is a case that former U.S. Attorney General, Eric Holder has been intimately involved in as he leads the Redistricting Foundation. This one is only the beginning as there are  other states Holder has in his crosshairs.

Georgia, Louisiana, South Carolina, and others are waiting with bated breath on the outcome of this case.

The Alabama redistricting case will set the precedent for the rest of the country and likely hand the Democrats additional House seats in the slim Republican-controlled House of Representatives.

The group headed by Holder sees the decision to throw out the Legislature’s redistricting plan as a win for democracy and a win for Black voters across the state.

Opponents see it as an opening for Democrats to gain House seats by gerrymandering the districts in order to ensure that Democrats control at least two House districts in Alabama.

The plaintiffs have been ordered to present three maps to the court by end of business Sept. 25 to ensure the process is completed and to not interfere with the upcoming elections, which many could argue is already interfering at this point.

Regardless, the new maps will undoubtedly make for plenty of drama as the Republican primary draws near with some House members unsure of their district lines.

For the members who get drawn into completely new districts, the chances of winning re-election will be extremely tough.

Nate Butler is a contributing writer for Yellowhammer News. You can reach him at [email protected] and you can follow him on Twitter @realnatebutler

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