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U.S. Supreme Court rejects Alabama Legislature’s maps

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Supreme Court has rejected the State of Alabama’s emergency request that the court reinstate Alabama’s partisan congressional map that the GOP supermajority passed in a July special session. This means that the map that Alabama will use in the 2024 election will be selected by the three judge panel in a hearing tentatively set for Oct. 3.

Court-appointed special master Richard Allen submitted three maps to the three-judge panel Monday. Those three maps create a second majority Black district “or something close to it” as ordered by the three-judge panel after they rejected the Legislature’s July special session map; ruling it not in compliance with the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

The Supreme Court had already heard the State of Alabama’s defense of the Republican Legislature’s 2021 congressional redistricting. In June, the court struck down that map in a narrow 5 to 4 ruling and sent it back to the three-judge panel.

The three-judge panel then asked the Legislature to draw a new map with two majority minority districts “or something close to it.” The Alabama Legislature instead simply increased the amount of Black voters in Alabama’s Second Congressional District from 30% to 39.9%. The three-judge panel rejected the second map as not compliant and appointed Allen as a special master to draw new maps.

The Alabama Attorney General’s office asked the three-judge panel to hold that process while they appealed to the Supreme Court. The court refused so Attorney General Steve Marshall asked the Supreme Court to stay that order. On Tuesday, the justices refused that request.

Tuesday’s ruling was a significant victory for the three plaintiffs groups that had sued the state arguing that the Legislature had denied Black Alabamians the right to have their voices heard.

The ruling could provide a legal pathway for Democrats to have court ordered redrawing of congressional districts in several southern states, boosting Democrats chances of winning back control of the House of Representatives in the 2024 election,

In Alabama, it means that Republican Reps. Barry Moore and Jerry Carl will now both reside in a dramatically redrawn First Congressional District. It also means that most of the City of Mobile will now be in the Second Congressional District along with Montgomery and half of the Wiregrass. The special master left north Alabama much like the Legislature drew it in July.

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