Federal Judges order Alabama to redraw Congressional map
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - A 3-judge federal panel is rejecting Alabama’s newly-drawn Congressional district map and sending it back to the legislature saying it likely violates Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.
The 3-judge panel ruled in favor of plaintiffs who argued the new voting map underrepresents minority voters, and says the state legislature needs to redraw the map by February 11th with “two districts in which Black voters either comprise a voting-age majority or something quite close to it.”
This ruling also delays the January 28th qualifying deadline for Congressional candidates, and directs Secretary of State John Merrill not to conduct Congressional elections based on the plan approved by the legislature last fall.
The judges say plaintiffs are likely to prove “Black voters have less opportunity than other Alabamians to elect candidates of their choice to Congress.”
Lawmakers met in Montgomery in October of 2021 to re-draw the Congressional district map during a special legislative session. During that special session Democrats and advocacy groups pushed for another majority-minority district to be drawn in Alabama.
The 3-judge panel made up of 1 Clinton and 2 Trump appointees, orders the state legislature to notify the court if it can’t pass a newly drawn map by February 11th. If it can’t, the court says it will hire “an eminently qualified expert to draw on an expedited basis a map that complies with federal law for use in Alabama’s 2022 congressional elections.”
We reached out to Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill for a comment, a spokesperson said his office couldn’t comment on pending litigation.
Alabama’s Attorney General says he disagrees with the ruling, and plans to appeal.
U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell (AL-07) released the following statement:
“Monumental news from the court! Increasing political representation of Black Alabamians is exactly what John Lewis and the Foot Soldiers who marched across the bridge in my hometown of Selma fought for. It is the reason why I am the lead sponsor of the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and have led efforts to get it signed into law.
“I am carefully reviewing the opinion and I look forward to working with the Alabama Legislature to fulfill the court’s mandate.”
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