“My original district was 63-67% African-American in population but the new district has a 74% majority African-American, which is what is called packing.
“To redraw my district, and the 12 districts ruled unconstitutional by the court will mean all of the lines will have to be redrawn statewide. I do not think you can cure this with just minor changes in the district lines. Once you change one district it affects the other neighboring districts and soon you will take in the whole state.”
McCampbell says that the Legislature will have to appoint a special committee to draw a new redistricting plan before the 2018 elections. McCampbell says he has been following the issues closely and has indicated an interest in serving on the special committee when it is created.
“I want to be sure to keep the commonalities of districts and we will not be able to divide precincts like last time.”
The districts named in the court decision as unconstitutional are: House District 32, represented by Rep. Barbara Boyd (D-Anniston); District 53, represented by Rep. Anthony Daniels (D-Huntsville); District 54, represented by Rep. Patricia Todd (D-Birmingham); District 70, represented by Rep. Chris England (D-Tuscaloosa); District 71, represented by Rep. A.J. McCampbell (D-Demopolis); District 77, represented by Rep. John Knight (D-Montgomery); District 82, represented by Rep. Pebblin Warren (D-Tuskegee); District 85, represented by Rep. Dexter Grimsley (D-Newville); and District 99 represented by Rep. James Buskey (D-Mobile).
In the Senate, the ruling cited District 20, represented by Sen. Linda Coleman-Madison (D-Birmingham); District 26, represented by Senate Minority Leader Quinton Ross (D-Montgomery) and District 28, represented by Sen. Billy Beasley (D-Clayton).
Some political observers in Montgomery wonder whether the Republican Party in Alabama is so strong and the Democratic Party is too weakened to field good candidates in legislative districts that will be redrawn as a result of this court decision.
Friday, January 20, 2017, a three judge federal court panel ruled that the State of Alabama violated the US Constitution when it drew three Alabama Senate Districts and nine House Districts following the 2010 census and are barred by the court from using those districts as presently drawn in future elections. This means redistricting now becomes a major task for the Legislature during this 2017 Session. The current House and Senate were elected using these districts. All of the 12 districts are held by Democrats.
Representative Artis J. McCampbell’s District 71, which includes parts of Greene, Sumter and four other counties, was one of the districts that was found to be “over-packed and stacked with minority (African-American) voters”. Previously, McCampbell’s legislative district included all of Greene and Sumter counties with the northern portion of Marengo and a small part of Tuscaloosa County.
Each House legislative district was supposed to include 45,000 people based on the 2010 Census. Senate districts were supposed to have 135,000 people in each.
The Republican dominated legislature, redrew all the legislative districts concentrating the African American voters in districts represented by African-American legislators. This took Democratic voters out of all the other districts and made it easier for Republicans, all of whom are white, to be elected in the other districts. This also resulted in the election of a two-thirds “super-majority” of Republicans in both houses of the Alabama Legislature – House and Senate.
Representative McCambell commented, “I opposed the drawing of my District from the beginning. It cuts through too many counties. It divides up the counties in my district. It even divides certain precincts. I have parts of six counties – Sumter, Greene, Marengo, Pickens, Choctaw and Tuscaloosa. Before I had all of Greene and Sumter with the northern part of Marengo and a small part of Tuscaloosa, in the Ralph and Fosters area.
“I have been a part of this Alabama lawsuit seeking equity in the redistricting process from the beginning. I am pleased with this latest decision, which comes after a five-year court battle that went up the Supreme Court and back to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeal twice.