ALABAMA LEGISLATIVE BLACK CAUCUS v. ALABAMA
The Alabama Constitution of 1901 requires that the Alabama Legislature redistrict itself every 10 years based on the national Census. However, from 1911 to 1961 the Legislature failed in that duty, and the Supreme Court ruled in Reynolds v. Sims that the Alabama Legislature must redistrict itself based on the results of the census and the principle of “one person, one vote.” After the state Legislature again failed to redistrict itself based on the 1970 Census, the federal district court adopted new district lines to protect the voters. In the 1980s, the Legislature successfully redistricted but only after twice failing to have its plans approved, as required by Section Five of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. In the 1990s, the Legislature again failed to redistrict itself, and the new districts were instead adopted by the Alabama judiciary. It was only after the 2000 and 2010 Censuses that the Legislature successfully redistricted without federal or judicial interference, which led to an increased representation of black voters and candidates.
While such redistricting has often provoked partisan controversies and claims of political and/or racial gerrymandering, these consolidated complaints come from several plaintiffs who claim that the purpose and effect of the latest redistricting is to dilute and isolate the strength of black and other minority voters. The federal district court dismissed the claims and granted judgment in favor of the state in both cases.
(1) Does the Alabama Legislature’s redistricting plan unconstitutionally classify black voters by their race in an effort to pack them into certain districts to maintain majority percentages?
(2) Do aspects of the state’s redistricting violate the “purpose and results” tests of Section Two of the Voting Rights Act as well as the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment by systematically diluting minority vote strength and eliminating certain majority/minority districts?