Supreme Court to decide whether Alabama can postpone drawing new congressional districts

by Joshua Brown
Alabama Redistricting Supreme Court Decision

The U.S. Supreme Court is poised to make a critical decision regarding Alabama’s request to maintain newly drawn GOP congressional districts. This request comes as a response to a three-judge panel’s proposal to establish a second majority-Black district, or something closely resembling it, within the state of Alabama.

Differing interpretations of Alabama’s compliance with the Supreme Court’s June ruling in this case were presented by the state’s attorney general and legal representatives of Black voters who contested the district map. The outcome of this decision holds significant implications, including which map Alabama will employ for the 2024 elections and the potential for the Supreme Court to revisit discussions on the role of race in redistricting.

Following the refusal of lawmakers to create a second district with a substantial Black voter majority, a three-judge panel is tasked with crafting new congressional boundaries for Alabama. The state’s secretary of state has petitioned the justices to halt the redrawing process while the state pursues its appeal.

Plaintiffs’ lawyers argue that Alabama knowingly and intentionally defied court orders by implementing a map that continued to diminish the influence of Black voters in congressional elections. They draw parallels between this action and Alabama’s resistance to court-ordered integration in the 1960s. Even if Alabama were to lose the case, a decision to review it could result in GOP-drawn lines persisting for another election cycle.

Evan Milligan, the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit, emphasized the significance of the issue, stating, “There is too much at stake. The government is supposed to represent the people. Yet we are being robbed of representation at the highest level.”

This case returns to the Supreme Court merely three months after a 5-4 decision against the state, which upheld the three-judge panel’s determination that Alabama’s 2021 map likely violated the Voting Rights Act. The panel insisted that any new map must include a second majority-Black district or something very close to it to ensure Black voters have the opportunity to elect a representative of their choice. In response, the Alabama Legislature, under Republican control, adopted a plan in July that maintained a single Black district while increasing the percentage of Black voters in another district to around 39%. This move was met with deep concern by the three-judge panel, which blocked the use of the new map and assigned a special master to propose alternative maps by Monday.

Alabama argues that the June Supreme Court ruling did not necessarily require the creation of a second minority district. The state contends that its new map addresses the issues identified by the court, such as the division of the state’s Black Belt region into multiple districts. The Alabama attorney general’s office asserts, “The 2023 map cures those defects, but because it doesn’t guarantee a second safe seat for Democrats, Plaintiffs now demand racial discrimination. … The VRA does not require this sort of racial sorting of voters, and the Constitution does not allow it.”

Alabama seeks a change of fortune and cites a recent Supreme Court ruling that struck down affirmative action in college admissions. They argue, “just as this Court held that race-based affirmative action in education at some point had to end, the same principle applies to affirmative action in districting.”

Kareem Crayton, a redistricting expert with the Brennan Institute for Justice, suggests that Alabama appears to be attempting to prompt the court to reconsider the requirements of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. He points out the inconsistency in Alabama’s argument, as they claim not to consider race in district drawing, contrary to their own practices.

The three-judge panel’s position is that Alabama should have a second district that offers Black voters a reasonable “opportunity” to elect their preferred candidates. Despite Alabama’s plan increasing the percentage of Black voters in the 2nd District, an area with strong ties to agriculture and a military base, from about 30% to almost 40%, Crayton’s analysis indicates that a candidate favored by Black voters would still likely lose in most elections in that district. This scenario, according to Crayton, presents an opportunity for Republicans to maintain control.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Redistricting

What is the Supreme Court’s role in this Alabama redistricting case?

The Supreme Court is expected to make a crucial decision regarding Alabama’s request to maintain newly drawn GOP congressional districts amid a dispute over Black voter representation. The Court will decide whether Alabama’s actions comply with their previous ruling.

What is the background of this case?

Alabama faced a three-judge panel’s directive to create a second majority-Black congressional district. Lawmakers, however, refused to do so. This case stems from a previous Supreme Court decision that found Alabama’s 2021 district map likely violated the Voting Rights Act.

What are the arguments presented by the state and plaintiffs?

Alabama argues that its new map addresses the issues identified by the court and that it doesn’t guarantee a second safe seat for Democrats. Plaintiffs contend that Alabama intentionally defied court orders, diluting Black voter influence in congressional elections.

What are the potential outcomes of the Supreme Court’s decision?

The Supreme Court’s decision could determine the congressional map Alabama uses in the 2024 elections and whether the Court will revisit the role of race in redistricting. Even if Alabama ultimately loses, a decision to review the case could keep GOP-drawn lines in place for another election cycle.

How has the three-judge panel influenced this case?

The three-judge panel ruled that any new map should include a second majority-Black district or something very close to it, to ensure Black voters have an opportunity to elect their preferred representatives.

What is the significance of this case beyond Alabama?

This case raises broader questions about the Voting Rights Act and the role of race in redistricting, potentially impacting redistricting practices in other states as well.

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CryptoDude September 24, 2023 - 7:03 pm

alabama arguin’ votin’ rights act. big implications 4 all states #voting

JournalistJane September 25, 2023 - 2:10 am

Interesting stuff. Suprem court’s decidin’ on Alabama’s GOP districts. Could get messy.

EconPundit September 25, 2023 - 3:08 am

wow, alabama, gop, scotus… dis redisticting drama big time! #politics

FinanceGuru September 25, 2023 - 12:50 pm

Alabama wants 2 keep GOP lines. court playin’ ref #redistricting


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