Judges refuse to pause order for Alabama to draw new congressional districts while state appeals
Sep 11, 2023, 4:06 PM
(AP Photo/Kim Chandler, File)
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — A three-judge panel refused Monday to pause an order to draw new congressional districts in Alabama while the state pursues another round of appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The judges rejected Alabama’s request to stay the ruling, which found the state diluted the voting strength of Black residents and ordered a special master to draw new lines.
Alabama is expected to appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court, seeking to put the order on hold.
The three judges last week said they will step in and oversee the drawing of new congressional lines after Alabama lawmakers refused to create a second district where Black voters at least came close to comprising a majority, as suggested by the court. The judges ordered a court-appointed special master to submit three proposed maps by Sept. 25.
The judges, in rejecting Alabama’s request for a stay, said state voters should not have to endure another congressional election under an “unlawful map.”
“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. 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 judges wrote.
The Alabama attorney general’s office has indicated it will pursue the stay request to the Supreme Court. That filing could come as soon as Monday evening.
The Republican-controlled Alabama Legislature hastily drew new lines this summer after the U.S. Supreme Court in June upheld the panel’s finding that the map — that had one majority-Black district out of seven in a state where 27% of residents are Black — likely violated the U.S. Voting Rights Act.
The three-judge panel, in striking down Alabama’s map last year, said the state should have two districts where Black voters have an opportunity to elect their preferred candidates. Because of racially polarized voting in the state, that map would need to include a second district where Black voters are the majority or “something quite close,” the judges wrote.
Alabama lawmakers in July passed a new map that maintained a single majority-Black district and boosted the percentage of Black voters in another district, District 2, from about 30% to nearly 40%.