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After the Shelby v Holder Decision - States Change Voting Laws - Alabama 1

With the 5-4 decision by the Supreme Court on the matter of Shelby County v Holder now in the books, many States and jurisdictions that were covered under the preclearance segment of Section 5 have set the path to attempt to change laws of their States that were previously covered by Section 4's formula of the Voting Rights Act which gave authority to the preclearance clause.

It only seems fitting that since the law suit originated from an Alabama County, it'll be the first state that is discussed in the effects on voting laws after the Supreme Court Decision.

In Mid-May of 2012, in a special session of the Alabama legislature, well before the June, 2013 decision by the Supreme Court, Republicans legislators sanctioned small changes to a redistricting blueprint as Democrats asserted accusations of racial gerrymandering. In circuit court, two residents of Montgomery County filed law suits in an attempt to halt the latest redistricting proposal.

Representatives on the Democratic side stated that the proposal by Republican leaders of the Permanent Legislative Committee on Reapportionment who were writing the new district lines would cause an upturn in the quantity of registered black voters in the already majority black districts and contain more conservative areas in the districts presently represented by white Democratic voters. Consequently, the newly-drawn districts would relocate the Caucasian Democratic voters out of the Legislature and weaken the overall influence of the black constituencies.

Representative Craig Ford, a Democrat from Gadsden County, alleged that the Republicans working the redistricting proposals are using the assumption that "if you're African-American, you're a Democrat; if you're Caucasian, you're a Republican." Ford further said that "It doesn't pass the smell test. It's going to fail in the Department of Justice" But that conjecture was yet to be tested.

In response, Representative Jim McClendon, a Republican from Springville and one of the co-chairmen of the committee, who sponsored the proposal countered by suggesting that in the new plan, the amount of House districts with majorities of black voters increase from twenty-seven to twenty-eight; a net gain of one. He further went on to stress his view that the newly written district lines were more likely to gain approval from the federal government as they were drawn fairly, and is a better proposal than that offered by opposing Party.

Ultimately, the House Committee passed the redistricting proposal in a 6-2, partisan vote.

Later that day, in a plan to redraw the 35 State Senate districts proposed by Senator Gerald Dial (R- Lineville), the Senate Judiciary Committee affirmed the plan by voting 6-3 in favor, also along partisan lines. Democrats in opposition to the plan accused Dial of packing such a large amount of blacks into some of the districts with an already majority of black voters that black residents in other districts were minimized to the point that they would become less effective to influence any results of future elections.

Commenting on the vote, Senator Rodger Smitherman, (D-Birmingham), said ''you're disenfranchising African Americans to the point that they have no influence whatsoever''

On May 21, 2012 the McClendon plan (House Bill 19) passed the House in a 66-35 vote, in a mostly partisan vote. The plan then passed through the Senate committee on May 23 in a 7-4 vote, and then passed a full Senate vote of 21-12. It next went to Governor Robert Bentley (R) for his signature, on its way to be approved by the U.S. Justice Department; making it law.

To read this article's conclusion, click here.