WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Monday, Nov. 15, two lawsuits were filed challenging Alabama’s newly passed legislative and congressional maps. The lawsuits, filed in federal court on behalf of voters, faith groups and civil rights groups, highlight Alabama’s long history of discriminating against Black voters, particularly through the redistricting process, in order for white Alabamians to maintain political power across the state and in Congress.
In the first case, Thomas v. Merrill, Alabama’s newly drawn state House and Senate districts are challenged for violating the 14th Amendment. The complaint alleges that the map drawers used race as a predominant factor in drawing the districts “in a manner not narrowly tailored to comply with Section 2 of the VRA [Voting Rights Act] or any other compelling governmental interest.” The lawsuits point to the fact that no racial polarization analysis was conducted during the map-drawing process, which was largely inaccessible to the public. The plaintiffs argue that the predominant use of race during the redrawing process resulted in racially gerrymandered maps where “Black voters and other voters of color were either packed into districts in numbers substantially higher than necessary to elect candidates of choice or cracked across multiple districts to prevent the formation of a majority-minority district or minority-opportunity district.” The lawsuit asks the court to declare the maps unconstitutional and order the creation of new maps that address the racially gerrymandered challenged districts.
The second case, Milligan v. Merrill, challenges Alabama’s new congressional map for similar reasons. The complaint alleges that race was the predominant factor used to draw districts without a compelling Voting Rights Act (VRA) or other governmental interest in violation of the 14th Amendment. Specifically, the complaint argues that Black voters were “packed” into the 7th Congressional District and “cracked” among three other districts in order to avoid drawing a second district where Black voters could elect their candidate of choice. The plaintiffs point out that, similar to the legislative redistricting process, the Alabama Legislature did not conduct any racial polarization analysis “to determine whether the packing of CD 7 was necessary to satisfy the VRA,” despite requests from the Black community and outside advocates. The lawsuit asks the court to declare the congressional map unconstitutional and order the creation of a new map that includes two majority-Black districts.