Black caucus files lawsuit over districts

Published 8:03 pm Friday, August 10, 2012

The Alabama Legislative Black Caucus filed a federal lawsuit Friday morning challenging the constitutionality of the redistricting plans. The dispute filed alleges that the plans are unconstitutional due to unnecessary violations of the whole county provision in the Alabama Constitution.

“The Republicans were fully aware that the legislature is required by the constitution to attempt to preserve whole counties,” said Caucus Co-Chairman, Senator Bobby Singleton (D-Greensboro). “Sadly, they were more concerned with segregating the parties and drawing plans that are racially gerrymandered instead of drawing constitutional plans.”

Redistricting, is a federal mandate that occurs every 10 years, which calls for the state legislators to redraw the lines for the districts.

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“The Republicans drafted these unjust plans with the goal to minimize black voting strength and isolate legislators chosen by African Americans from influence in the Alabama Legislature,” said Caucus Co-Chairman and local Rep. A.J. McCampbell (D-Gallion).

Singleton said the changes as they stand now, which would take place 2014 or later, could have effects on Marengo County.

“Under these changes Marengo County would experiences some of the biggest changes in the state,” he said. “It would expand the five state representatives and senators to about seven or eight.”

He said the addition to the leadership of the county could make it more difficult for all the leaders to come together and agree on local legislation.

According to a press release, it states the plans manipulate the district boundaries for the purpose of diluting black voting strength, by unnecessarily maximizing or “packing” the 27 House districts and 8 Senate districts with majority-black voting age populations.

The disputed plans were passed by the state legislature during a special session called in May 2012 even though Democratic legislators adamantly contested them from the outset.

Singleton said none of the alternate suggestions the Democrats suggested for the redistricting were received.

“We want to the start the process over because the current proposed plans are unfair,” he said.

“We hope that the federal court will recognize that the plans which the Republicans passed aimed to pack and stack African American voters into minority districts while drastically reducing minority influence in other districts,” said Rep. John Knight (D-Montgomery). “In this day in time, it is sad that people must still go to court to get justice for all citizens in our state.”