Category: Redistricting

U.S. Supreme Court Rejects Alabama’s Request to Stay Redistricting Decision

The United States Supreme Court Tuesday denied Alabama’s request to stay a lower court decision directing a special master to draw new state congressional maps to remedy Voting Rights Act violations.

The nation’s high court dismissed the request in two one-sentence orders Tuesday morning. No opinions were given with the decision, which could open the door to Alabama having two congressional districts with majority or near-majority Black populations. Read more.

Federal Court Blocks Alabama’s Congressional Map, Orders New Lines Drawn

A three-judge federal panel Tuesday ruled that a new Alabama congressional map failed to address Voting Rights Act violations and ordered a third party to draw new lines.

In a 217-page opinion in the case, known as Allen v. Milligan, U.S. Circuit Judge Stanley Marcus and U.S. District Judges Anna Manasco and Terry Moorer sharply criticized the Alabama Legislature, writing that they were “deeply troubled” that lawmakers did not draw a map that gave Black voters in the state the chance to elect representatives of their choosing, as the judges ordered in a January 2022 ruling.

“We are not aware of any other case in which a state legislature — faced with a federal court order declaring that its electoral plan unlawfully dilutes minority votes and requiring a plan that provides an additional opportunity district — responded with a plan that the state concedes does not provide that district,” the judges wrote. Read more.

In Dueling Alabama Congressional Map Proposals, a Dispute Over Possibilities

Can Alabama draw new maps on explicitly racial lines? Maybe.

“It’s kind of head spinning and even lawyers who are in the space get a little confused,” said Michael Li, a redistricting expert and senior counsel at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University.

At the Tuesday public hearing, attorney James Blacksher and Rep. Chris England, D-Tuscaloosa, went back and forth about whether Alabama’s new maps can split counties to be on explicitly racial lines. The answer to that question remains to be seen.
Read more.

Suit Accuses Jefferson County of Racial Gerrymandering in Commission Districts

Jefferson County Commission President Jimmie Stephens said the commission is not guilty of illegally packing Black voters into two districts to limit the influence of Blacks, as it is accused in a federal lawsuit filed Friday.

The lawsuit accuses the commission of intentionally packing Black voters into two supermajority Black commission districts based in and around Birmingham. The commission over the past decade, the lawsuit maintains, has siphoned Black voters living in the suburbs into those two districts to prevent them from exercising greater political power in surrounding districts. Read more.

Public Hearing on New Birmingham City Council Districts Set for March 29

The Birmingham City Council has set a March 29 public hearing to discuss proposed changes to the city’s council districts based on 2020 census data.

Last month, the council hired Crimcard Consulting Services to lead the redistricting process, which is required each decade by city law. After several individual meetings with councilors, Crimcard presented proposed districts to the council Feb. 14.

A digital map of the proposed changes has not yet been made available; that information will be shared on the city’s website this week, officials said, but video of the presentation is available on the council’s Facebook page.

The redistricting process has already proven controversial, with District 3 Councilor Valerie Abbott expressing dismay that part of the Five Points South neighborhood would be reassigned to District 6, currently represented by Council President Pro Tem Crystal Smitherman. Read more.

Legislature Wraps Redistricting Work, Sends Maps to Ivey

MONTGOMERY — State lawmakers wrapped up their work on redistricting Wednesday, sending all four maps redrawn with Census 2020 data to Gov. Kay Ivey.

The Senate gave final approval to the congressional and Alabama House of Representatives district maps. Meanwhile, the House passed new district maps for the state Senate and the Alabama State Board of Education.

Democrats raised several objections to the redrawn congressional districts, particularly as it concerns the racial makeup of districts. Sen. Rodger Smitherman said as currently drawn, the 7th District packs too many Black voters into a single district and diminishes their voting power statewide. Read more.

Maps Clear Senate, House Committees, Head to Final Votes

MONTGOMERY — Committees in the Alabama House and Senate approved the four bills containing new congressional, state board of education and state House and Senate districts Tuesday, readying them for final passage on Wednesday. Each of the bills cleared committees without changes to the district maps. Some Senators attempted to make changes to the congressional map in the Senate General Fund budget committee but were ultimately unsuccessful. Read more.