Black Caucus asks court to throw out districts

Published 11:13 pm Tuesday, April 28, 2015

MONTGOMERY (AP) — Lawyers for the Alabama Legislative Black Caucus asked a federal court on Monday to toss out Alabama’s legislative districts and hold new legislative elections next year.

Lawyers for black lawmakers filed the motion after the U.S. Supreme Court in March sent Alabama legislative districts back for further review.

Black legislators had challenged the 2012 plan — drawn by the newly elected GOP majority — saying that it illegally packed black voters into designated minority districts. They also said it limited their ability to influence elections outside of those districts.

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The Supreme Court said in March that a federal court applied the incorrect legal test when it approved the plan. Justices said the lower court should have looked at claims of racial gerrymandering from a level of district by district, not just statewide.

Caucus lawyers argue that the legislative districts, “display unmistakable evidence of racial sorting.” They argued the map improperly split counties and communities in favor of racial quotas. “When county and precinct boundaries are split along clear racial lines, as shown above, the subordination of traditional districting principles to race is obvious,” lawyers for the caucus wrote

The districts should be declared unconstitutional and new districts should be drawn, lawyers wrote. They suggested a new primary could be held in March of 2016 with a General Election the following November.

State Republicans have said they believe the districts will be upheld.

Republicans said their plans complied with the voting rights law by preserving all the districts in which African-Americans were a majority and adjusting populations so that districts contained roughly the same number of people. The new plan, allowed only a 2 percent population difference between districts, a much lower variance than previous plans.”