Alabama asked U.S. Supreme Court Justices to temporarily suspend a lower court’s ruling regarding the state’s newly revised redistricting map.
State officials argue Alabama should not be forced to create a second majority-black voting district, claiming that would lead to a racially segregated court-drawn plan.
Earlier in June, the Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision affirmed a lower court’s judgment that Alabama must revise its congressional districting map.
The Voting Rights Act of 1965 was designed to ensure black voters had a fair chance to elect their preferred candidate, according to a report from The Epoch Times.
The state Legislature’s map approved in July contained only one majority-black district out of seven, despite the state’s black population standing at 27%.
The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama last week determined the July map did not adhere to a prior court order to comply with the Voting Rights Act when they introduced the new districting map.
The three-judge panel rejected the state’s reasoning that crafting a second black-majority district would be tantamount to “affirmative action in redistricting.”
This panel consisted of Judge Stanley Marcus of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, who was nominated by President Bill Clinton, according to the report.
Judges Anna Manasco and Terry Moorer, both appointed by President Donald Trump, were the other two judges who ruled against Alabama in the case, the report noted.
Alabama Secretary of State Wes Allen urged the Supreme Court to put the lower court’s decision on hold before October 1. Allen petitioned Justice Clarence Thomas, who oversees urgent cases from that region.
The state claims the lower court’s judgment to create a racially segregated redistricting map that forms a second majority-black district would go against state redistricting principles.
Allen appealled to the Supreme Court to halt the lower court’s decision from being implemented while the appeal process is ongoing. In certain voting rights scenarios, the state may appeal directly to the Supreme Court.
Earlier the same day, the three-judge panel declined Allen’s plea for a stay concerning a decision that called for the appointment of a special master to devise three potential congressional maps later in the month.
This was a consequence of an earlier judgment that the state’s initial redistricting proposals could potentially weaken the voting power of its black residents.
“We are deeply troubled that the State enacted a map that the State readily admits does not provide the remedy we said federal law requires,” justices explained in its published decision.
Due to the state Legislature’s noncompliance, a court-appointed special master is now tasked with designing Alabama’s congressional map for the 2024 elections.
The panel was resolute in their belief that there was no real “emergency” as posited by Allen.
“We have said before that ‘this is a straightforward Section Two case, not a legal unicorn,’” the justices stated.
They elaborated on the case’s unusual nature, noting it was rare for a state to respond to a federal court order in such a manner, especially after having presented its arguments to the Supreme Court once before.
The judges were clear in their stance that there was no “emergency” and highlighted that the timeline for alternative maps was progressing as mutually agreed upon.
They concluded by stating, “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.”