ADL to Supreme Court: Alabama’s Race-Based Redistricting Plan is Unconstitutional

New York, NY, August 21, 2014 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has filed an amicus brief before the U.S. Supreme Court in Alabama Democratic Conference v. Alabama which urges the Court to strike down Alabama’s latest redistricting plan as unconstitutional.  The brief argues that Alabama unconstitutionally focused on racial considerations when drawing its district lines.

After the 2010 census, the state of Alabama redrew its district lines so that some majority-minority districts were more than 75 percent black.  The Alabama Democratic Conference and the Alabama Legislative Black Caucus each filed lawsuits arguing that Alabama unconstitutionally engaged in racial gerrymandering and packed black voters into certain districts, thereby diluting their political power in other areas.

Deborah M. Lauter, ADL Civil Rights Director, issued the following statement:

Alabama’s latest redistricting plan is unconstitutional and troublesome.  While states can and should consider racial composition when drawing district lines, they cannot do so at the expense of traditional race-neutral districting principles. When Alabama undertook its latest redistricting scheme its primary concern was with meeting racial quotas that it had set for each district.  As a result, some of the districts were more than 75 percent black. That is unconstitutional racial gerrymandering, and it results in diluted minority voting power elsewhere in the state.

We have long believed that courts should analyze redistricting plans based on race with the highest degree of scrutiny. Alabama’s redistricting plan cannot meet that high standard because it was not narrowly tailored to meet the requirements of the Voting Rights Act.  We urge the Supreme Court to strike down the plan as unconstitutional.

The Houston law firm Nathan Sommers Jacobs prepared ADL’s amicus brief.