Adams joins fight for voting rights at US Supreme Court

Mayor Eric Adams addresses New York City Police Academy
Mayor Eric Adams addresses New York City Police Academy graduates during their graduation ceremony at Madison Square Garden, Friday, July 1, 2022, in New York.
Associated Press/John Minchillo

New York City Mayor Eric Adams and New York City Corporation Counsel Sylvia O. Hinds-Radix have joined the fight to protect voting rights at the US Supreme Court by filing an amicus brief in the case Merrill v. Milligan, supporting Black Alabamian voters are fighting against racially gerrymandered congressional redistricting plan.

Adams said on Tuesday that The City of New York joined the brief in an effort to support Alabamians fighting against the implementation of a newly-drawn congressional districting map that dilutes Black votes in violation of the Voting Rights Act.

The respondents in the case argue that the state’s new electoral map “packed” Black voters into one congressional district and diluted them among three other districts in an effort to avoid drawing a second district where Black voters could elect their candidate of choice.

A district court previously ordered a new map to be drawn, but the Supreme Court — in a 5-4 vote — paused that order following an appeal by the state of Alabama, leaving the map with only one majority-Black district in place for the 2022 elections. The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear the case this fall.

“Voting is the most fundamental right, and so whether in New York, in Alabama, or anywhere else across the nation, we stand united against any attempts to dilute the votes of Black Americans and disenfranchise millions,” said Mayor Adams. “For years, the Voting Rights Act has served as a key safeguard against racially gerrymandered redistricting maps that reduce the voice of Black voters.

“Alabama’s new congressional districting map is a clear violation of the law, which is why New York City is joining this fight and standing up for voting rights nationwide,” he added.

“This coalition stands together to oppose Alabama’s effort to dilute Black votes to limit the ability of people of color to meaningfully participate in the political process,” said Barbadian-born Corporation Counsel Hinds-Radix.

“For decades, New York City has successfully redistricted against the backdrop of the Supreme Court’s longstanding interpretation of the Voting Rights Act to make our electoral processes more representative of all the members of our communities,” she added. “We urge this court not to let Alabama rewrite the law and reverse decades of progress we have made promoting racial justice and equity.”

Amici cities argue, in the brief, that Alabama’s effort seeks to alter the Supreme Court’s longstanding interpretation of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, particularly Section 2, which prohibits not only voting practices motivated by a discriminatory purpose, but also those that result in unequal access to the political process.

Amici also claim that Section 2 has served as a critical check on redistricting plans that grossly dilute the votes of people of color and that the Supreme Court’s current interpretation of Section 2 sets the proper guidelines for local governments to draw lawful maps that don’t discriminate.

The brief asserts that Alabama’s proposed districting plan — which splits two of the state’s principal majority-Black communities of interest — is a “textbook example” of a redistricting plan that denies minority voters equal access to the political process in violation of Section 2.

Joining the City of New York in filing this brief are the cities of Montgomery, Alabama; Los Angeles, Oakland, and San Diego, California; Gary and South Bend, Indiana; Baltimore, Maryland; Boston, Massachusetts; Saint Paul, Minnesota; Santa Fe, New Mexico; Cincinnati, Cleveland, and Columbus, Ohio; Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Austin and Houston, Texas; and Madison, Wisconsin; in addition to Alameda, Marin, and Santa Clara Counties, California; Bucks County, Pennsylvania; Travis County, Texas; and Milwaukee County, Wisconsin; as well as the city and county of San Francisco, California; the city and county of Denver, Colorado; and the Harris County, Texas Attorney’s Office.

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