Alabama, Representative Terry Sewell, Rebecca Green discussed on Bloomberg Radio New York Show


Require us to count how many jelly beans are in a jar But modern day voter suppression is no less pernicious Representative Terry sewell is the only black person serving in Congress from Alabama The state is currently represented by one black Democrat sewall elected from the states only majority black district and 6 white Republicans elected from the states heavily white districts That's even though about 27% of Alabama's population is black So a panel of three federal judges has ordered the state to draw new congressional districts including a second district where the substantial number of minority voters Alabama is appealing that decision to the Supreme Court Joining me is Rebecca green professor and director of the election law program at William Mary law school Rebecca explained this decision by the panel of judges The case comes up under the Voting Rights Act thing called section two which is designed to ensure that minorities have the ability to elect their candidates of choice or put a different way that state rules and laws don't stymie the ability of minorities to elect their candidate of choice One way that states have done this historically is by the way they draw their lines And the reduction process And so what they can do is they can pack minority voters into a single district thereby take their voting power away and in surrounding districts or if there are concentrations of minority voters that would be able to elect their candidate choice the line drawer could draw a line like in the middle of that concentration of minority voters in order to defuse or dilute their ability to elect their connective choice So redistricting has been a vehicle that states have used in the past to harm minority political strength And if you look at the U.S. congressional map in Alabama the plaintiff's challenged under section two they did exactly what I just described at least that's the allegation that they packed minority voters into a single district in one part of the state and across the way on the right hand side of the state they cut line down The concentration of minority voters and the allegation is that violates Voting Rights Act section two And so this three judge panel of federal judges which included two appointees of former president Trump said voting in the challenged districts is intensely racially polarized This is not genuinely in dispute Is that correct that it's not in dispute Yes so what they're referring to is an analysis that is required under section two vote dilution litigation The first part of that analysis has to do with whether the minority community is sufficiently large and geographically compact to qualify for protection under section two And then the second two prongs of that analysis require the presence of racially polarized voting meaning that you can look at how minorities vote and you can first of all decide that they're politically cohesive and that they would vote for the same candidate if given the chance And the other piece of that is that the majority voters consistently vote to defeat the minority candidates of choice And my understanding of the data is that it is racially polarized voting climate What were the court's instructions to Alabama about redrawing the map Basically the state map has only one majority minority district out of 7 despite the fact that there are almost 30% black voting age population in the state So it's skewed against minority voters for that reason And so the command to comply with section two is to draw a second majority district What was interesting to me is that the panel refused to put its decision on hold while Alabama appeals to the Supreme Court so that gives the legislature until Monday to draw a new map in the meantime the panel is working on a backup plan Yeah so I think the urgency here is that the panel of judges here thinks that the plaintiffs have an incredibly strong case And that the arguments the state was making to defend its maps were exceptionally weak And one of the arguments that the defendants of the state made here was essentially that by prioritizing race for purposes of complying with section two of the Voting Rights Act that would be a racial gerrymander In other words if you create the second majority minority district it would effectively be prioritizing race over everything else And the reason why I think the court found that to be such a weak argument is that if you couldn't comply with section two without violating the constitution then section two would be unconstitutional and that mainly the lower court judges weren't willing to do In other words they were taking it on face that Congress has the power to enact section two and that plaintiffs can vindicate those rights So Alabama is appealing to the Supreme Court as I said And it argued that the injunction will throw state elections into chaos and require the state to draw districts based primarily on race instead of other factors What do you think of that argument That's sort of what I was just deleting They're reacting to this idea that they should be prioritizing race in their line drawing When that sort of a strange argument given that since the Voting Rights Act was passed in 1965 and particularly since it was applied to line drawing both division cases that's what states have been required to do all along And in fact obviously Alabama has been losing defendant on many registered in cases since the Voting Rights Act was passed So to complain that they are being forced to comply with the Voting Rights Act by taking recent to account as it requires the search is a strange argument because that's not anything new So will the Supreme Court hear the case Yes there's mandatory jurisdiction for the Supreme Court in statewide redistricting cases So unlike other cases where the court can decide or not decide here is the court will take it for part.

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