The Supreme Court has rejected Alabama’s request to reinstate a congressional map drawn by Republican lawmakers that only included one majority-Black district. This decision paves the way for a new map to be implemented before the 2024 election. Alabama had repeatedly asked the Supreme Court to affirm a limited role of race in establishing voting districts, despite lower-court rulings stating that the state had disregarded the directive to create a second majority-Black district. The court’s order did not provide reasons for its decision, but it allows for a special master and court-appointed cartographer to develop a new map.
This dispute over Alabama’s congressional map could potentially impact the balance of power in the House, as Republicans currently hold a narrow majority. The case is also being closely watched by lawmakers in Washington and other states facing similar battles over redistricting. In a surprising decision in June, the Supreme Court found that Alabama had discriminated against Black voters in drawing its voting map, which reaffirmed parts of a landmark civil rights law. The state legislature had subsequently redrawn the map, but it still did not include an additional majority-Black district. This led a federal three-judge panel to determine that lawmakers likely violated the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
The panel overseeing the case stated that the law requires the creation of an additional district that offers Black Alabamians a fair and reasonable opportunity to elect candidates of their choice. Alabama’s attorney general argued that the new map complied with the law, but the plaintiffs, including Black voters and advocacy organizations, urged the Supreme Court to reject Alabama’s request, accusing the state of defying the courts with recycled arguments. Furthermore, they criticized the secretive nature of Alabama’s redrawing process and the state’s disregard for alternative plans supported by Black Alabamians. The Supreme Court’s denial of Alabama’s request sets the stage for the development of a new map that will ensure greater representation for Black voters in the state before the next election.