Alabama makes emergency appeal to Supreme Court in redistricting case

 September 12, 2023

Alabama's redistricting controversy could land back at the Supreme Court after the state's Republican leaders filed an emergency appeal of their latest court defeat.

The courts have ruled that Alabama must create an additional black-majority district to satisfy the requirements of the Voting Rights Act, but the state is continuing to appeal the order.

A panel of federal judges last week rejected Alabama's latest proposal and ordered a special master to begin drawing up maps for 2024.

Alabama appeals to Supreme Court

In their appeal to the Supreme Court, Alabama warned that using the court-drawn maps would divide citizens by race. They asked the Supreme Court to freeze the lower court order “so that millions of Alabama voters are not soon districted into that court-ordered racial gerrymander.”

“Race-based redistricting at the expense of traditional principles bears an uncomfortable resemblance to political apartheid,” the attorney general’s office wrote.

Democrats have said the shoe is on the other foot and that Alabama's maps violate the Voting Rights Acts' rules against "vote dilution." Of the state's seven House districts, one is black majority, but African Americans account for about a quarter of the population.

In June, the Supreme Court ruled against Alabama, with Brett Kavanaugh and Chief Justice John Roberts siding with the liberals. Dissenting, Clarence Thomas had rejected the notion that there is a legal requirement for black voters to have representation proportional to population size.

"Section 2 demands no such thing, and, if it did, the Constitution would not permit it," he wrote.

Tipping the scales

After the Supreme Court's ruling, Alabama drew up a new map that increased the black percentage of the population from 30 to 40 percent in a second district. But a three-judge panel in Alabama called the maps "unlawful" in an order last week.

“We repeat that we are deeply troubled that the State enacted a map that the Secretary readily admits does not provide the remedy we said federal law requires," the court wrote.

"And we are disturbed by the evidence that the State delayed remedial proceedings but did not even nurture the ambition to provide that required remedy."

The court dismissed Alabama's appeal for a stay of its order, which led the state to knock on the doors of the Supreme Court once again. It is believed that Alabama hopes Kavanaugh will be more receptive to the latest proposal.

The court's map would tilt the House race next year in favor of Democrats, handing the party one additional seat.

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