Federal judges denied Alabama’s latest congressional map ruling on Tuesday, ruling that it needed to be redrawn as Republican lawmakers failed to create a second majority-Black district.
The three-judge panel previously struck down Alabama’s congressional map in 2022, saying the state should have two majority-Black districts. The Supreme Court upheld in June that the previous map likely violated the Voting Rights Act.
Alabama lawmakers then passed a new map in July. The map maintained a single majority-Black district and boosted the percentage of Black voters in a separate district 10 percent from about 30 percent to 40 percent.
The judges said they were “deeply troubled” that lawmakers enacted a map that provides no remedy and prevented the use of the newly drawn map in next year’s election. They then reassigned the job of redrawing it and ordered it be drawn independently.
“Based on the evidence before us, including testimony from the Legislators, we have no reason to believe that allowing the Legislature still another opportunity to draw yet another map will yield a map that includes an additional opportunity district,” the judges wrote in their opinion. “Accordingly, the Special Master and cartographer are DIRECTED to commence work forthwith on a remedial map.”
The court appointed special master Richard Allen, a longtime Alabama lawyer, and cartographer David Ely, a California-based demographer, to redraw the map.
The special master will need to have three proposed plans that comply with the Voting Right Act and Constitution by September 25, 2023. The map must include a second district with a Black majority or that otherwise offers Black voters “an opportunity to elect a representative of their choice.”
If there are objections to the plans they can be filed within three days of their submission to the court, and a hearing on the objections will convene on October 3 only if deemed necessary.
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