High Court Sends Alabama Redistricting Case Back For Review
WASHINGTON (AP) -- A divided Supreme Court says a lower court must take another look at whether Alabama's Republican-led legislature relied too heavily on race when it redrew the state's voting districts.
The justices split 5-4 across ideological lines Wednesday in ruling that a three-judge panel did not properly consider whether state officials illegally packed black voters into too few voting districts to limit minority political power.
Justice Stephen Breyer said the lower court should have reviewed claims of racial gerrymandering on a district-by-district level, not just statewide. He also said the court didn't apply the right test when it found that race wasn't the primary motivating factor.
State officials say they had no choice but to concentrate black voters in some districts, making neighboring seats more white and apt to elect Republicans.
MONTGOMERY –Alabama Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard (R – Auburn) issued the following statement in response to the United States Supreme Court’s ruling today on Alabama’s 2012 redistricting plan:
“The U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling today did not strike down any portion of our redistricting plan or call into question the merits of our plan, which was pre-cleared by the United States Justice Department. We are confident that any re-examination by the lower court will only continue to affirm the plan as lawful and equitable.”
(Montgomery) - Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange announced today that the U.S. Supreme Court decided Alabama’s redistricting case, Alabama Legislative Black Caucus and Alabama Democratic Conference v. Alabama.
The plaintiffs challenged Alabama’s most recent House and Senate Districts. The lower federal district court upheld the districts. The Supreme Court held that the district court applied the wrong legal standards, and it vacated the lower court’s decision. The case will now return to the district court for reconsideration.
“While I am disappointed that the Supreme Court vacated the district court’s decision, the Court did not invalidate the redistricting plan as a whole or any specific district,” said Attorney General Strange. “My office will continue defending the State’s legislative districts.”
After this decision, the House and Senate districts remain the same. There is no need to hold new elections or reapportion the legislative districts.
The Supreme Court of the United States issued a 5-4 decision this morning concerning Alabama's 2012 legislative redistricting. The ruling sent the case back down to the District Court to be reargued. The ruling did not deem Alabama's redistricting unconstitutional, nor did the ruling state that Alabama must redraw district lines.
Alabama Republican Party Chairwoman Terry Lathan made the following statements:
"This week the Supreme Court of the United States handed down two rulings; one that directly affects the state of Alabama and another that indirectly upholds our Voter ID law.
"This morning the Supreme Court directed the state of Alabama to return to the District Court on the question of legislative redistricting. They did not overturn or reverse the redistricting lines established by the legislature in 2012, but are remanding the case back to the District Court to answer questions the Supreme Court did not believe were properly addressed. While no one knows a timetable on this event, it will probably be a lengthy process with many legal conversations and input. We will now wait for the District Court to revisit this topic.
"The Alabama Republican Party has full confidence in our leadership team, headed by Governor Bentley, Pro Tem Del Marsh and Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard, to address this Supreme Court ruling.
"Just two days before the Supreme Court returned this issue back to our state, they also batted away a Wisconsin challenge to overturn their state's strict Voter ID law. In doing so, that decision also firmly upholds the Voter ID law passed in 2011 by the Alabama state legislature and signed by our governor."
Alabama Democratic Party Chairwoman Nancy Worley Responds to U.S. Supreme Court’s Ruling On Legislative District Lines
"The court’s ruling today is a victory for the people of Alabama, and confirms that the Republican-controlled legislature clearly used the redistricting process to increase their partisan power at the expense of the voters. It is obvious that the people of Alabama cannot trust the Republican leadership in the legislature to draw the district lines. The new lines need be drawn by an impartial court, and drawn in a way that truly embraces the principle of ‘one person, one vote.’”
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