Alabama Seeks To Circumvent 1965 Voting Rights Act, Files Federal Lawsuit
As one of several southern states that traditionally repressed minority voters, Alabama is specifically required by the 1965 Voting Rights Act to request federal approval any time it changes its congressional districts. Yesterday Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange (GOP) filed a federal lawsuit demanding exemption from that law.
The Alabama attorney general’s office has for years taken the position in legal filings that the section of the Voting Rights Act requiring preclearance in unconstitutional. Staff in the attorney general’s office declined further comment. Attorney General Luther Strange could not be reached for comment. Democrats in the Legislature have complained that the plan passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature was written to favor Republicans and packed black voters in some districts while leaving them with little influence in other districts.Think Progress notes that in the two years since the 2010 Tea Party wave into Congress, there have been more challenges to the Voting Rights Act than in the previous 45 years combined.
Senate Minority Leader Roger Bedford, D-Russellville, said the attorney general’s office wants to avoid the justice department’s preclearance process because the Legislature “passed a racially gerrymandered plan.” “It’s a ridiculous waste of taxpayer’s money,” Bedford said of the lawsuit. He said Republicans are trying to circumvent the way voting changes have been approved in Alabama for the last 40 years. House Minority Leader Craig Ford said he believes Republicans want to avoid going to the Justice Department because they are “ashamed of the way they drew the lines.”