Federal court blocks Alabama's latest congressional redistricting map

 September 6, 2023

While it's not the hot topic it probably should be, the redistricting battle in several states will ultimately decide who controls the House of Representatives next year. 

Alabama has been at the forefront of controversy regarding the redistricting process, even drawing the authority of the Supreme Court earlier this year.

The Republican-controlled state legislature's previous redistricting maps drew intense scrutiny, and the high court ultimately ruled that a new map should be drawn that includes a second majority-Black district, "or something quite close to it."

A federal judge intervened this week after the legislature submitted a new map without following the Supreme Court's ruling, essentially starting the process over again.

What happened?

A three-judge federal court panel blocked the latest submitted congressional map, citing the lack of following the high court's ruling that a second Black district be drawn in.

"We are deeply troubled that the State enacted a map that the State readily admits does not provide the remedy we said federal law requires," the judges wrote, adding that they were "disturbed" at how the legislature snubbed the Supreme Court's 5-4 ruling earlier this year.

CNN noted:

The three federal judges overseeing the Alabama case on Tuesday ordered a special master to submit three proposed maps that would create a second Black-majority district by September 25.

The law requires the creation of an additional district that affords Black Alabamians, like everyone else, a fair and reasonable opportunity to elect candidates of their choice," the panel of judges wrote, adding that they believe the new map "plainly fails to do so."

"Elected officials ignored their responsibilities and chose to violate our democracy. We hope the court’s special master helps steward a process that ensures a fair map that Black Alabamians and our state deserve," said JaTaune Bosby Gilchrist, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama.

Republicans will appeal

Alabama Republican leaders said they would appeal the federal judges' ruling.

"While we are disappointed in today’s decision, we strongly believe that the Legislature’s map complies with the Voting Rights Act and the recent decision of the U.S. Supreme Court,” a statement from the office of Alabama Attorney General Steven Marshall read.

It added, "We intend to promptly seek review from the Supreme Court to ensure that the State can use its lawful congressional districts in 2024 and beyond."

Given the high stakes on both sides of the aisle, expect more intense legal action as the redistricting battle continues.

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