In a 217-page order handed down Tuesday, a federal three-judge panel ruled the remedial congressional map drawn in a special session by the Alabama Legislature invalid, citing a previous mandate to create a second majority-Black district.
The judges assigned court-appointed officials, including a special master and cartographer, to create a map compliant with court guidance by Sept. 25. These districts will go into play during the 2024 election.
In a June 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court found the 2021 Alabama congressional map violated the Voting Rights Act.
Under the map authorized by the Legislature, the “Livingston Plan” – invalidated by the three-judge panel today – Alabama’s Seventh Congressional District, represented by U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell, would have been composed of a majority-Black population at 50.65%. Rep. Barry Moore’s Second Congressional District would have shifted to 39.99%
Federal judges ruled today that proposal doesn’t meet their standard.
Sewell (D-Birmingham) claimed the ruling as a victory.
“Today’s decision is yet another victory for Black voters in Alabama and for the promise of fair representation,” she said in a statement. “By appointing a special master to fairly redraw Alabama’s congressional map, the court has rejected the state Legislature’s latest attempt to dilute the voices and voting power of African Americans all across our state.”
She said she was outraged by the Legislature’s “open defiance” of initial guidance.
“The Voting Rights Act of 1965 is indeed alive and enforceable,” Sewell said in the statement.
Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall has yet to issue a statement on the ruling, but his appeal on behalf of the state is expected.
Secretary of State Wes Allen has said finalizing a redistricting plan by Oct. 1 “would provide enough time to reassign voters, print and distribute ballots, and otherwise conduct the forthcoming 2024 primary elections based on the new map.”
In an interview on “The Jeff Poor Show,” Alabama House Speaker Nathaniel Ledbetter said he wasn’t surprised by today’s ruling.
“It’s a little confusing, because they don’t want us to gerrymander those districts, but then they ask us to gerrymander those districts – I mean that’s the only way you can get to those numbers is gerrymandering,” Ledbetter said. “Unfortunately, I think is being driven by people out of D.C. (Former U.S. Attorney General) Eric Holder and (former President Barack) Obama had started the PAC to try to redraw some of these lines, probably not only in congressional seats, but also State House seats.
“So, it’s a way for the Democrats to try to take over the House without a vote being cast.”
Grayson Everett is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @Grayson270