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.
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.
Lawyers for the state defended Alabama’s new congressional map before a panel of judges who previously ruled the 2021 map violated the Voting Rights Act. Read more.
The approved map aims to address the federal court ruling but leads to tensions and claims of voter suppression. Read more.
Republican supermajorities in the Alabama House and Senate approved two separate congressional maps with a single majority-Black congressional district and one with a Black population ranging from 38% to 42%.
Democrats in both chambers, who support maps with two majority-Black districts, opposed both proposals and said they would not satisfy federal courts that ruled that the state’s earlier congressional maps violate the Voting Rights Act. Read more.
House and Senate Republicans approved two different congressional maps in committees Tuesday, potentially creating a conflict just days ahead of a deadline to submit proposals to a federal court.
The House State Government committee approved a new state congressional map that creates a majority-Black congressional district in western Alabama and a 42% Black district in the southeastern part of the state.
But a Senate committee Tuesday approved a map that lowers the Black population to 38% in the southeastern district while reducing the Black population in the western district to about 50%. Read more.
A Republican-dominated reapportionment committee Monday approved a new state congressional map that creates a majority-Black congressional district and one that is 42% Black.
The party-line vote, coming on the first day of a special session for redistricting, came after Democrats said they were being ignored in the process and after two hours of discussion that often felt like the start of legal arguments for a federal court hearing scheduled next month. Read more.
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.
The effort to redraw the congressional map began Tuesday with a public hearing at the State House. This follows the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision upholding a lower court’s ruling that Alabama’s congressional map does not reflect the state’s Black population. Read more.
Gov. Kay Ivey called a one-issue special session for July 17 for legislators to adopt a new congressional district map. Read more.