The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected Alabama officials’ latest attempt to submit a Congressional map with only one majority-Black district.
It’s the second defeat in three months for the Republican-led state officials, who asked the Justices earlier this month to step in again and let it keep its latest redrawn Congressional lines after a lower court tossed it.
And that lower court ruled after Alabama had already lost once in the Supreme Court. In a 5-4 ruling in June, the Justices struck down a previous version of the state’s Congressional map, with Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh, both conservatives, joining the Court’s three liberal Justices in the majority.
Afterward, the state redrew its map without including the two court-required majority Black voter Congressional districts. The new map was struck down by a three-judge panel on the U.S. District Court of Northern Alabama on September 5.
In their court order the Alabama judges stated that they were “deeply troubled that the State enacted a map that the State readily admits does not provide the remedy we said federal law requires.”
Even though more than one-fourth of the state’s population is Black, the way the district lines were drawn, minority voters would only have a realistic chance of electing the candidate of their choice in one of Alabama’s seven Congressional districts. The Supreme Court in June had sided with the district court’s earlier ruling that said Alabama should have created two compact Congressional districts with a majority or close to a majority of Black voters, not one.
On Tuesday, the Supreme Court in two related applications refused emergency requests from Republican state officials to block the lower court rulings.
The Alabama district court judges in their September 5 order assigned court-appointed experts to draw three different proposed maps, all of which will include two districts where Black voters have a realistic opportunity to elect their preferred candidates. The proposed maps were to be submitted to the court by this past Monday, and a hearing on arguments for and against the proposals will take place October 3.
Alabama is facing a looming deadline ahead of next year’s elections. The state’s Secretary of State Wes Allen (R) has told the district judges that finalizing a redistricting plan by October 1 “would provide enough time to reassign voters, print and distribute ballots, and otherwise conduct the forthcoming 2024 primary elections based on the new map.”
Meanwhile, a court trial about the map Alabama wants to use for its 2026 elections is still looming.