Our power is on the line.
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What's at stake in Milligan v. Merrill?
The U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Milligan v. Merrill will have a decisive impact on Alabamians’ right to vote, the future of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and other voter protections. The Voting Rights Act is in danger of being further weakened by the Court, and Black and Brown communities in Alabama could continue to be disenfranchised for another decade due to unfair representation.
What is Milligan v. Merrill?
During the 2020 census and 2021 redistricting cycle, Alabama legislators hastily slapped together a new map that, like its old one, drew only one of seven congressional districts in which Black voters had a fair chance at winning an election – although Black people make up 27% of the state’s population. As a result, community members in Alabama filed Milligan v. Merrill, suing the state of Alabama for unfair maps, which were ruled unconstitutional by a federal three-judge panel in January 2022.
What is redistricting?
The redistricting process is the allocation of power. It’s incredibly important because it creates the district lines that determine who gets to vote for which candidates at every level of government. The state legislature uses data from the decennial census to identify population changes and determine where voters live to draw these maps. The redistricting process can have a significant impact on Black voters’ political power — and the unique circumstances of this redistricting cycle mean it’s causing more intensive alarm about rights infringements than past cycles.
Why was this redistricting cycle different?
This is the first redistricting cycle in which we no longer have the protection of preclearance, and why states like Alabama can now pass discriminatory maps without oversight. Part of the Voting Rights Act included a requirement called preclearance, which meant that states with a history of racial voting discrimination – including Alabama – had to get their new maps approved by the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice. But in 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the preclearance requirement in a case that originated in Alabama, Shelby County v. Holder, claiming its use was outdated.
What has representation looked like historically?
No Black person has ever been elected from a majority-white congressional district. Black members of Congress have only come from the one existing majority-Black district in the state, which was created following voting rights litigation in 1992. Today, Black candidates hold zero statewide offices. Only two Black people have ever been elected to statewide office in Alabama. No Black person has won a statewide race in over 25 years.
How can you help?
Now more than ever, we must join forces and face these challenges together in order to protect our voting rights and defend our democracy. Help us spread the word and grow the movement by signing up for updates, sharing these resources on your social media, and bringing a friend with you to the next event.
Sign our open letter to Congress.
The right to vote should be fair and accessible to all Americans, no matter what state you live in. Whether passing federal legislation like the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, or ratifying a new Amendment to the U.S. Constitution to protect voting rights, we demand permanent voting rights protections NOW.