Alabama redistricting plaintiffs formally object to state’s newly enacted congressional map

The plaintiffs in Allen v. Milligan filed a formal objection on July 28 with United States District Court for the Northern District of Alabama regarding the state’s revised congressional district boundaries. The plaintiffs requested that the court prohibit the state from using the new boundaries and appoint a special master to draw a new congressional map that the state would use for the remainder of the decade. 

The U.S. Supreme Court had ruled 5-4 in Allen v. Milligan that the plaintiffs showed a reasonable likelihood of success concerning their claim that Alabama’s 2021 redistricting map (HB1) violated Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. SCOTUS’ decision affirmed the Northern District’s earlier decision, and SCOTUS remanded the case back to the district court for further proceedings. 

Alabama enacted revised congressional district boundaries on July 21 after the legislature approved them and Gov. Kay Ivey (R) signed the redrawn maps into law. The Senate approved the new boundaries 24-6, and the state House passed them 76-26. The Alabama Reflector’s Alander Rocha and Jemma Stephenson wrote that the congressional map the state enacted in 2023 “would lower the percentage of Alabama’s current majority-Black district and create a district in southeast Alabama that would be nearly 40% Black.”

The plaintiffs’ objection to the newly enacted boundaries argued, “Alabama’s new congressional map ignores this Court’s preliminary injunction order and instead perpetuates the Voting Rights Act violation that was the very reason that the Legislature redrew the map. The new map (known as SB5) fails to address this Court’s ruling that the 2021 congressional map likely violates § 2 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA).” 

After the state enacted new congressional boundaries in July, Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall issued a statement that said in part: “The Legislature’s new plan fully and fairly applies traditional principles in a way that complies with the Voting Rights Act. Contrary to mainstream media talking points, the Supreme Court did not hold that Alabama must draw two majority-minority districts. Instead, the Court made clear that the VRA never requires adoption of districts that violate traditional redistricting principles.”

U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell (D-Ala.) issued a statement that said in part: “Today, the State of Alabama has shamelessly chosen to ignore the Supreme Court. The map advanced by the state legislature includes only one majority-minority district and a second district where Black voters make up only 39.9 percent of the voting age population. This map does not comply with the Supreme Court’s order and is an insult to Black voters across our state. I fully expect that it will be rejected by the courts.”

Now that the plaintiffs have objected to the newly adopted boundaries, the state has until Aug. 4 to file a response. If the federal district court decides to conduct hearings in the case, those have been tentatively scheduled to start on Aug. 14.

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