David W Marshall

(TriceEdneyWire.com) – House Speaker Kevin McCarthy had to be concerned when the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling in Allen v. Milligan. The critical case deemed Alabama’s current congressional map as unlawful and likely in violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. After the 2020 census, the Alabama congressional map included just one majority-Black district out of the state’s seven districts despite Black voters making up 27% of the state’s population.

As a result of the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision, the state was required to redraw lines to create a second majority-Black district. After the higher court’s ruling, one would think state lawmakers would make a good-faith effort to comply with the Section 2 provision. But Alabama will always be Alabama. It will always be the state of former Gov. George Wallace, who stood and blocked the doorway at the University of Alabama as federal authorities tried to allow Black students to enter and enroll at the school. When the defiant Wallace refused to move, President John Kennedy ordered 100 troops from the Alabama National Guard to assist federal officials. The federal government’s fight with Alabama over race continues.

Alabama is still defiant as its Republican-controlled legislature approved a new congressional map with just one majority-Black district. Gov. Kay Ivey quickly signed the redistricting map into law. “The legislature knows our state, our people, and our districts better than the federal courts or activist groups, and I am pleased that they answered the call, remained focused, and produced new districts ahead of the court deadline,” Ivey said in a statement. By ignoring the court’s ruling, Alabama has not changed in its long-held belief in state rights, where states feel they can do whatever they want, especially when it comes to holding back people of color. It’s been 60 years since Wallace’s infamous 1963 “Stand in the Schoolhouse Door”; the former governor would have been proud that the state’s tradition of blocking the rights of Black Alabamians continues in 2023.

“There was never any intent in this building to comply with their court order,” said state Rep. Chris England, a Tuscaloosa Democrat. “There was never any intent in this building to comply with the Voting Rights Act.”

The Alabama defiance of the Supreme Court is critical to next year’s election as Republicans seek to maintain control of the House. The control of the House of Representatives is a national strategy, and Alabama is doing its part with its racially motivated map. McCarthy knows the importance of political and racially motivated redistricting plans and how they played a key role in flipping the House to the Republicans during the 2022 midterm elections. McCarthy remembers how Florida Gov. DeSantis vetoed a map drawn by the state legislature and pushed through his own redrawn congressional map, which led to a four-seat pickup in the U.S. House. The DeSantis map wiped out North Florida’s traditional Black-performing congressional district held by former Rep. Al Lawson. The redistricting process is a national chess match of moves and counter moves as redistricting battles will ultimately be played out in courts from Alabama, New York, North Carolina, Georgia and Texas, where the control of Congress can be decided.

For this reason, it should be no surprise that McCarthy, Sen. Tommy Tuberville, and much of the Alabama congressional delegation reached out to Alabama Republican legislators before the new congressional map was redrawn. Republican state House Speaker Nathan Ledbetter said during his call with Tuberville that the senator was surprised the Supreme Court had ruled against the state given the court’s conservative tilt. The Supreme Court upheld racial justice, to the surprise of those who oppose it.

It becomes frustrating because this is specifically why Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act required Alabama and eight other states to receive preclearance from the Justice Department or a federal court to redraw its electoral districts. Now that the Supreme Court removed the Section 4 safeguard, Ivey and DeSantis can wreak havoc with the representation of Black voters. “Our country has changed,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote as the Section 4 provision was struck down.

No, Alabama has not changed and will never change in this regard. The MAGA movement has emboldened Alabama voters and elected officials to continue its unjust traditions while defying federal government oversight. We have seen Republican lawmakers such as Jeff Flake, Paul Ryan, Bob Corker, John McCain, Mitt Romney, Liz Chaney and Adam Kinzinger at times publicly confronted former President Donald Trump, and it was the appropriate thing to do. While some of these past lawmakers took bold steps against the party leadership in attempting to hold Donald Trump accountable, none of them would go the extra mile in taking a stand against the voter suppression perpetuated within the Republican Party. Last week, Alabama showed the nation it is still connected to its states’ rights legacy. We also see how Republican lawmakers on the state and federal levels will strategize to defy the Supreme Court to retain power.

David W. Marshall is founder of TRB: The Reconciled Body, the faith-based organization. He is also the author of the book “God Bless Our Divided America.” He can be reached through https://www.davidwmarshallauthor.com.

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