Federal judges blocked Alabama’s congressional map on Monday and ordered the Republican-dominated legislature to redraw a new map that matches the state’s demographics and has two congressional districts with substantial voter numbers. black.
The three-judge panel, including two justices appointed by former President Trump and a circuit judge appointed by former President Clinton, said Congress’ latest map violates the Voting Rights Act by drawing a single seat where black voters constitute the majority or plurality of the ward.
“Black voters have fewer opportunities than other Albanians to elect their chosen congressional candidates,” the judges wrote. “Any turnaround plan will need to include two constituencies in which black voters either constitute a majority of voting age, or something close enough.”
Black residents of Alabama currently make up 26.8% of the state’s population and account for 34% of the state’s total population increase over the past decade. The majority were drawn to Alabama’s 7th District, which has a black voting-age population of more than 54%, according to the Princeton Gerrymandering Project.
The state’s remaining black population is split between the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd districts, all of which have a black voting-age population of over 24%.
The federal court ruling is the second time in recent weeks that a congressional card in a Republican state has been invalidated. Supreme Court of Ohiodue to partisan gerrymandering. The North Carolina Supreme Court will hear a similar case in February.
The U.S. District Court also ordered that Alabama’s nominee filing deadline be moved from Jan. 28 to Feb. 11, to allow time for the Republican-dominated legislature to draw new lines. If they are unable to adopt a plan in time, the court will order an expert to help draw a map.
The office of Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall, a Republican, said he “strongly disagrees with the court’s decision” and will appeal to the US Circuit Court “in the coming days.”
If the US Circuit Court upholds the previous ruling, a path to the US Supreme Court is possible.
“Alabama’s previous congressional map was pre-approved by Eric Holder’s Justice Department on November 21, 2011,” said Adam Kincaid, executive director of the National Republican Redistricting Trust. “The new map maintains the status quo. It does not violate Section 2 of the VRA under current law enforcement and should be maintained.”
Democratic Congresswoman Terri Sewell, who represents Alabama’s only majority-minority seat in Alabama’s 7th District, has long advocated for the “unboxing” of black voters in her area.
“Increasing political representation for black Alabamians is exactly what John Lewis and the foot soldiers who crossed the bridge in my hometown of Selma fought for,” she said in a statement Monday. “I am carefully reviewing the notice and look forward to working with the Alabama Legislature to fulfill the court’s mandate.”