An opportunity district is a congressional seat where Black voters have a decent chance electing their chosen representative. Political experts see this as a victory for Democrats, who are predicted to win the seat in next year’s election.
Currently Democratic Terri Sewell is the only Black Congressional representative from Alabama, representing the 7th District. The second Black seat is in Alabama’s 2nd congressional district.
This occurred after the Supreme Court rejected the Alabama GOP’s entreaty last Tuesday “to block the redrawing of the state’s congressional districts by a special master,” per Axios.
Alabama was required to draw a new congressional map, which would have “greater representation for Black voters.”
But the Republican controlled state was still trying to overturn the lower court’s ruling, which had determined that the state legislature was not in compliance with the Voting Rights Act.
Under the Voting Rights Act, minority voters are required to be provided “an equal opportunity to participate in the political process.”
Alabama’s state legislature had refused to redraw the maps to avoid increasing voting power for Black voters. A three-judge panel was forced to intervene.
Their opinion read, “The law requires the creation of an additional district that affords Black Alabamians, like everyone else, a fair and reasonable opportunity to elect candidates of their choice. The 2023 Plan plainly fails to do so.”
This is the result of a years-long battle. The state redistricted in 2021, after the maps were redrawn per the results of the 2020 census. These maps were actually used in the 2022 midterm elections. But in June the Supreme Court ruled that the map was not legal and Black Alabamians were underrepresented. In July, the conservative controlled state legislature submitted another map, but it wasn’t that different from the previous one.
Despite the court orders, Wes Allen, Alabama’s Secretary of State said, “‘the map the federal court has forced upon Alabama’ would be used in 2024, but that the state would continue to appeal.”
“It is important for all Alabamians to know that the legal portion of this process has not yet been completed. A full hearing on the redistricting issue will take place in the future,” Allen continued.
Political analyst Dave Wasserman predicts this could have broader ramifications outside of Alabama. Wasserman wrote, “[t]he landmark decision in Allen v Milligan could reverberate across the deep south, leading to the creation of new Black-majority, strongly Democratic seats in multiple states.”
“Politically, the ruling could shake up the 2024 battle for the House, send shockwaves beyond Alabama and potentially offset a new gerrymander Republicans are likely to impose in North Carolina. The key states to watch are Alabama, Louisiana, Georgia and South Carolina,” Wasserman added.