MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Federal judges said Tuesday that they will draft new congressional lines for Alabama after lawmakers refused to create a second district where Black voters at least came close to comprising a majority, as suggested by the court.
In blocking the newly drawn congressional map, the three-judge panel wrote that they are “deeply troubled” that Alabama lawmakers flouted their instruction to create a second majority-Black district or something close to it. The panel directed a court-appointed special master to submit three proposed new maps by Sept. 25.
“The law requires the creation of an additional district that affords Black Alabamians, like everyone else, a fair and reasonable opportunity to elect candidates of their choice. The 2023 Plan plainly fails to do so,” the judges wrote in the ruling.
Alabama indicated in a court filing that it will ask the U.S. Supreme Court — which previously upheld the panel’s findings in the case — to put the order on hold while it appeals, according to a court filing.
“While we are disappointed in today’s decision, we strongly believe that the Legislature’s map complies with the Voting Rights Act and the recent decision of the U.S. Supreme Court,” Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall’s office said in a statement.
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 in 2022, 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.
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