A civil rights group is challenging Alabama's practice of electing appellate judges by statewide vote, saying it has resulted in all-white courts in a state where one of every four people is African-American.
The NAACP's Alabama chapter and four black voters sued the state on Wednesday in Montgomery federal court, arguing that electing judges through at-large elections in Alabama violates the Voting Rights Act.
Alabama's appellate judges run statewide for election, just like the governor, attorney general and other top officials. The system has resulted in Republican-dominated courts — not a single Democrat is running for the appellate court seats open in November.
Alabama is one of about seven states that elect appellate judges in partisan elections, and racially polarized voting patterns in the deeply red state means elections are largely decided in the Republican primaries, resulting in a court that is not reflective of the state's population, said attorney James Blacksher, who is working the case.