North Alabama leaders share reaction to SCOTUS ruling in defense of Voting Rights Act

WAFF 48's Romario Gardner reporting
Published: Jun. 8, 2023 at 10:58 PM CDT

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - A new ruling by the nation’s highest court will force state lawmakers to redraw congressional district lines.

In a 5-4 decision, the United States Supreme Court affirmed a lower court’s ruling that found a likely violation of the Voting Rights Act.

The map currently only has one majority Black seat out of seven congressional districts in a state where more than one in four residents are Black.

NAACP president Bernard Simelton said the news came as a surprise at first but is glad the majority conservative court is still working to ensure equal and fair access to the ballot.

“I was elated. I mean, I was you know, just so happy that we won,” Simelton said. “With this win, it’s saying the Supreme Court is acknowledging that there’s still a tremendous voter suppression that’s targeted towards black voters, and that, you know, is unconstitutional.”

Judges found that Alabama’s Black population is large and geographically compact enough to create a second district.

House Minority Leader Anthony Daniels believes this ruling gives voters of all races, more choices.

“Folks, just want representation that’s reflective of their values,” Daniels said. “And the individuals that will listen to them, and really be able to represent them well regardless of their race, regardless of their income level.”

He said the leader of the Alabama democratic conference Dr. Joe Reed presented his idea for a new map. It keeps counties whole and presents District 1 and District 7 as the state’s two majority-Black districts.

Daniels and Simelton both say this is a win for Alabama, but Senator Arthur Orr said it’s still too early to celebrate.

“As a decision maker, it’s incumbent on us to wait and examine the decision and see what the decision says,” Orr said. “There still may be some post-decision you know moving a motion for a rehearing a motion to have the court revisit their decision.”

Daniels said we could expect another special session so lawmakers can draw a new congressional map.

He predicts a final decision between December and January.

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