Lawsuit Says Alabama Appellate Court Elections Violate Voting Rights Act

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The civil rights group Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is filing a federal lawsuit on behalf of the Alabama NAACP and four individuals challenging how Alabama elects appellate judges. The suit alleges the at-large elections violate the Voting Rights Act.

Judges on the Alabama Supreme Court, the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals and the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals are elected through a statewide vote. The suit argues that since voting patterns tend to fall along racial lines in Alabama, the overall white majority keeps black candidates from being elected because the system dilutes potential support for minority judges. The suit says no black judge has been elected to the state’s three appellate courts in 21 years.

Instead the plaintiffs want these judges elected on a district basis saying that would give African-Americans an equal opportunity to elect judges of their choice.

A spokeswoman with the Alabama’s attorney general’s office says they’re reviewing the complaint and had no immediate comment. Secretary of State John Merrill declined to comment.

The Lawyers’ Committee filed a similar suit in Texas this summer.

Voting Rights Act Lawsuit

Andrew Yeager

Andrew Yeager