Landmark Case

Nixon v. Brewer

Case Number


Fighting for fair representation
In Alabama in 1970, African Americans were severely underrepresented in the state legislature. Famed civil rights activist E.D. Nixon and other black voters demanded that Alabama reapportion its state legislature as required by law, and implement a single-member district voting system.

The SPLC litigated a case on their behalf that was later consolidated with another reapportionment case, Sims v. Amos. SPLC lawyers argued that blacks made up one-fourth of the Alabama population but were unable to elect representatives of their choice under the current at-large voting system. That system diluted African American voting strength, they argued, because African American communities were submerged into legislative districts dominated by white majorities.

The federal courts ruled in favor of the black voters and the state was required to reapportion into single-member districts. The result was the election in 1974 of 15 black legislators.