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How Race Has Emerged in Recent Redistricting Cases Months Before the 2022 Midterms

Civil Rights Policy Brief #182 | By: Rodney A. Maggay | February 16, 2022

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Federal Court Tosses Alabama Congressional Map on Grounds it Disadvantaged Blacks

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Policy Summary

For the first few months of 2022 reports emerged on the status of redistricting efforts in a number of states. Some of those battles have not been definitively resolved with one case even reaching the U.S. Supreme Court. Here is an update on those cases that are still ongoing and an analysis of the common themes found in the cases.

 

  • On February 7, 2022 the United States Supreme Court refused to allow a federal district court order to redraw Alabama’s congressional map to go forward. The federal district court had ruled that the map drawn by the Republican controlled state legislature was likely in violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act’s prohibition against vote dilution based on race.
  • On February 8, 2022, arguments were wrapped up in an Arkansas State House redistricting case before U.S. District Court Judge Lee Rudofsky. The case is similar to the Alabama case in that the plaintiffs are challenging the recently drawn state maps as likely being in violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act because of their weakening of Black Arkansans voting power. In the last decade Arkansas gained 30,000 black persons. But the new state House map reduced the number of black majority districts from twelve to eleven out of a total of 100 state House seats.
  • On February 14th, 2022, the ACLU of Kansas and the Campaign Legal Center jointly brought suit to block Kansas’ new congressional map that had been drawn by the Republican controlled state Legislature. The map appears to have been intentionally drawn to defeat Representative Sharice Davids who is currently Kansas’s only Democratic member of Congress.
  • In Georgia, Judge Steven Jones heard arguments as to whether Georgia’s new state legislative maps discriminate against Black voters in the state. Registered Black voters in Georgia increased 500,000 over the last decade and plaintiffs believe the maps were drawn to dilute the voting power of black voters in the state.
  • On February 11, 2022, the NAACP of South Carolina filed a lawsuit against proposed congressional and state legislative district maps on the grounds that the new maps dilute Black voting power in a number of congressional and three state legislative districts.

Policy Analysis

According to former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, currently the chairman of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, thirty – nine (39) states have completed their redistricting maps for Congress. Those states comprise 337 congressional districts. There are eleven states whose congressional redistricting has not been completed because of challenges to maps that had been drawn and submitted for approval. While some states such as Georgia and South Carolina are still debating new district maps for their state legislatures, there has been no comprehensive information on how many states have completed their state district maps for their state legislatures.

Of the eleven states remaining, a common theme has emerged to explain why these states have not completed their congressional maps and in some cases their state district maps. The proposed maps are being challenged on the basis of race and the state’s attempts to dilute the voting power of Black communities. Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 explicitly prohibits voting practices that discriminate on the basis of race and color yet some states continue to ignore this prohibition especially when it comes to drawing new state legislative and congressional districts.

In Alabama, the claim that there was no racial gerrymandering was so weak that two Trump appointed judges ruled that there was an illegal gerrymander and Chief Justice Roberts even opined that the maps should not be allowed to go into effect. The case in Arkansas is just as stunning as Alabama as the Black population in Arkansas went up yet the number of majority Black districts redrawn in the proposed maps went down. 


Supreme Court rules in favor of Alabama GOP-drawn maps, continuing war on Black Power

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The theme in these states is to try and dilute the voting power of Black communities lest the states have to relent and concede a seat. And with many minority communities voting Democrat than Republican the redrawing of state legislative and congressional districts to accommodate another majority Black district would in essence be flipping a likely Republican district to one that would probably end up Democratic.

This is power politics being played at the expense of the Black community in many states, challenging their ability to participate fully in the democratic process. With the future of legislative proposals and elections being defeated by very slim margins , it is imperative that the selection of our representatives not be determined by the exclusion of a bloc of voters.

 

The representatives who cast their votes in state legislative house and Congress on issues that affect the lives of every citizen should be selected because they heard what their constituents have to say and not because only a selected few live in a particular district. The remaining eleven states can help to remedy this problem by choosing state maps that are not based on trying to exclude a selected minority community. LEARN MORELEARN MORELEARN MORELEARN MORE

This brief was compiled by Rod Maggay. If you have comments or want to add the name of your organization to this brief, please contact Rod@USResistnews.org.

Engagement Resources​

Click or tap on resource URL to visit links where available 

United States Department of Justice (DOJ) – guidance on enforcement of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

National Democratic Redistricting Committee (NRDC) – non – profit group head by former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to combat gerrymandering and redistricting abuses.

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