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Challengers urge Supreme Court to allow Alabama redistricting order

A state official has asked the justices to halt the process to redraw the seven congressional districts

The Supreme Court in June sided with the challengers to Alabama’s congressional map as a likely violation of the Voting Rights Act.
The Supreme Court in June sided with the challengers to Alabama’s congressional map as a likely violation of the Voting Rights Act. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Several challengers to Alabama’s congressional map on Tuesday urged the Supreme Court not to halt a lower court ruling for an outside expert to propose new maps for the 2024 election.

A brief from the challengers, including Alabama voters and the state NAACP, responded to a request from an Alabama official for the justices to intervene in the case.

A three-judge panel has struck down the latest revised congressional lines drawn by state lawmakers, finding that the map still violated the Voting Rights Act because it has only a single district where Black voters would have the opportunity to elect candidates of their choice.

The challengers told the justices that Wes Allen, Alabama’s secretary of state, is seeking a pause of that order, called a stay, to avoid facing the consequences of not drawing a second district where Black voters could elect the candidate of their choice.

“The Secretary is not entitled to a stay to implement a congressional map that openly defies the clear rulings of the district court and this Court,” the brief stated.

Black voters make up more than one-quarter of the state’s population and currently make up a majority of one of the state’s seven congressional districts in the map that was used for the 2022 election.

The Supreme Court in June sided with the challengers to Alabama’s congressional map as a likely violation of the VRA, sending the case back to the three-judge panel that originally struck down the map drawn in 2021.

State legislators passed a new map with one Black-majority district and one where Black voters make up roughly 40 percent of the voting-age population. Alabama argued the state’s new map united communities of the so-called “Black Belt” across the center of the state without contorting other districts.

The three-judge court disagreed, ruling that the revised map still violated the law.

The six Republicans who represent Alabama in the House filed a brief that backs the state’s effort to keep its rewritten maps Tuesday. The brief argued that the three-judge panel “bolted” their conclusions about the 2021 map to the 2023 map “and called it a day.”

The group argued the lower court should have looked to the state’s partisanship and instead “avoided considering the colossal evidentiary proof that Democrats have consistently lost in Alabama not because they are Black, but because the Democratic Party has failed to appeal to Alabama voters for quite some time.”

The Alabama case is the furthest along of several challenges to congressional maps, including in Louisiana and Georgia, where particulars of the Voting Rights Act could factor into the shape of districts next year.

Congressional efforts to reauthorize the law have stalled. Last Congress, the Democrat-led House passed legislation to reauthorize the VRA, but the measure failed to advance in the closely divided Senate.

Some Democrats reintroduced that bill Tuesday. But efforts to reauthorize the law have faced almost uniform opposition from Republicans in Congress.

Absent another ruling from the three-judge panel or the Supreme Court, the special master has a Sept. 25 deadline to file proposed new maps for Alabama.

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