Federal court overturns Alabama GOP redistricting maps

September 6, 2023

Redistricting plans that Alabama Governor Kay Ivey (R) signed into law in July were overturned by a federal court on Tuesday because they did not include provisions to create a second majority-black congressional district, as Breitbart News reported.

A heated legal dispute over newly drawn congressional districts in Alabama has ended with the law being overturned. In 2022, a three-judge panel comprised of Judge Stanley Marcus (nominated by Clinton) and Judges Anna Manasco and Terry Moorer (nominated by Trump) ruled that Alabama's altered maps were invalid because they failed to include the two majority-black voting districts.

Even though African Americans make up 27 percent of Alabama's population, the seventh congressional district is the state's sole majority-black voting district. Rep. Terri Sewell is the only Democrat in the state legislature, and she represents this district.

The Court's Decision

The Supreme Court agreed with the lower court in June, 5-4, and ordered the state legislature of Alabama to redistrict to create another majority-black district or "something quite close to it."

The legislature of Alabama instead authorized a revised design that increased the percentage of black voters from 30 to 40 percent in a second district and created one majority-black district.

The lack of a second primarially black voting district in the state "deeply troubled" the three justices.

“We have now said twice that this Voting Rights Act case is not close,” the judges wrote. “And 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 courts have assigned Richard Allen the task of creating three alternative congressional map proposals by September 25 as the special master.

“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,” they wrote, adding that Alabama’s new map “plainly fails to do so.”

The State's Response

The attorney general of Alabama, Steven Marshall, stated he is “disappointed” with the ruling and voiced his intention to appeal all the way to the Supreme Court.

“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,” Marshall’s office said in a statement.

“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.”

Justices rejected Alabama's claim that creating a second majority-black district was illegal "affirmative action in redistricting."

“The Voting Rights Act does not provide a leg up for Black voters – it merely prevents them from being kept down with regard to what is arguably the most ‘fundamental political right,’ in that it is ‘preservative of all rights’ – the right to vote,” the judges asserted.

" A free people [claim] their rights, as derived from the laws of nature."
Thomas Jefferson
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