A federal court has struck down a congressional redistricting map signed into law by Gov. Kay Ivey in July because it failed to create a second majority-black district, according to reports on Tuesday.
The decision follows a heated legal dispute regarding the redrawing of congressional districts in the state. A three-judge panel, consisting of Judge Stanley Marcus, appointed by President Clinton, along with Judges Anna Manasco and Terry Moorer, appointed by President Trump, invalidated Alabama’s revised maps in 2022 after ruling that the state should have established two voting districts with a majority of black voters.
Currently, Alabama’s seventh congressional district is the only majority-black voting district in the state, despite Alabama’s 27 percent black population. That district is represented by the state’s lone Democrat, Rep. Terri Sewell, Breitbart News reported.
“In June, a 5-4 U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the lower court’s ruling, ordering Alabama’s legislature to redraw the maps again to include a second majority-black district or ‘something quite close to it,’” the outlet noted.
However, Alabama’s legislature opted to pass a new map that retained just one majority-Black district and increased the Black voting population in a second district from 30 percent to 40.
The three judges expressed significant concern over the absence of a second majority-Black voting district in the latest maps.
“We have now said twice that this Voting Rights Act case is not close,” the judges wrote. “And we are deeply troubled that the State enacted a map that the State readily admits does not provide the remedy we said federal law requires.”
The judges appointed Richard Allen as the special master tasked with creating three new proposed congressional maps by September 25th.
“The law requires the creation of an additional district that affords Black Alabamians, like everyone else, a fair and reasonable opportunity to elect candidates of their choice,” the three-judge panel wrote, adding that Alabama’s new map “plainly fails to do so.”
Alabama Attorney General Steven Marshall said he was “disappointed” in the ruling and added that he plans to appeal it to the U.S. Supreme Court.
“While we are disappointed in today’s decision, we strongly believe that the Legislature’s map complies with the Voting Rights Act and the recent decision of the U.S. Supreme Court,” Marshall’s office said in a statement. “We intend to promptly seek review from the Supreme Court to ensure that the State can use its lawful congressional districts in 2024 and beyond.”
The appeals panel rejected the state’s argument that a court-ordered second district with a majority black population would unconstitutionally create “affirmative action in redistricting.”
The judges dismissed Alabama’s argument that a court-ordered second majority-black district would unconstitutionally constitute “affirmative action in redistricting.”
“The Voting Rights Act does not provide a leg up for Black voters – it merely prevents them from being kept down with regard to what is arguably the most ‘fundamental political right,’ in that it is ‘preservative of all rights’ – the right to vote,” the judges ruled.
Breitbart News added:
With the Republicans having a razor-thin majority in the House of Representatives, the battle over redistricting maps in states like Alabama, Georgia, and Florida could have a huge impact on which party controls the House in the 119th Congress.
Former Obama-era U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, chairman of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, praised the judge’s ruling as a “a significant step toward equal representation for Black Alabamians.”
Last year, the Supreme Court initially blocked a lower court’s ruling that would have forced Alabama to draw a new congressional map with two districts likely to elect Democratic House members.
“The high court’s decision Monday to leave the Republican-controlled state legislature’s redistricting plan in place for the 2022 elections split the justices, 5-4, with Chief Justice John Roberts joining the court’s liberals in opposing the ruling. The congressional redistricting plan is likely to produce a 6-1 Republican advantage in the state delegation, the same as it is now,” Politico reported at the time.