Jan 25, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Alabama's new congressional map rejected by federal judges

Exterior view of the Alabama State Capitol on March 22, 2020 in Montgomery, Alabama.

The Alabama State Capitol in Montgomery. Photo: Taylor Hill/Getty Images

Federal judges on Monday night blocked Alabama's newly drawn congressional map and ordered the Republican-led State Legislature to create a new one that includes two districts, rather than the planned one.

Why it matters: "Black voters have less opportunity than other Alabamians to elect candidates of their choice to Congress," the panel of three judges wrote in their ruling.

  • The judges found the planned new map for the district that includes a large amount of Black voters likely violated the Voting Rights Act.
  • "We find that the plaintiffs will suffer an irreparable harm if they must vote in the 2022 congressional elections based on a redistricting plan that violates federal law," the judges added.

The big picture: The unanimous ruling was in response to a lawsuit filed last November on behalf of Greater Birmingham Ministries, Alabama State Conference of the NAACP, and several individuals who represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, among others.

  • The map the court rejected has one single majority-Black district, which includes "part of Birmingham and some of the Black Belt in Alabama," per an ACLU statement.
  • "While Black people are about 27% of Alabama’s population, they are represented in only one of seven (14%) congressional districts," ACLU notes.

What's next: The judges in their ruling gave state lawmakers until Feb. 11 to create a new map that "will need to include two districts in which Black voters either comprise a voting-age majority or something quite close to it."

  • If the lawmakers miss the deadline, the court will get "an eminently qualified expert" to do so instead, the judges wrote.
  • A spokesperson for Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall told AP his office disagreed with the ruling and would appeal the decision "in the coming days."

Go deeper: Congressional mapmakers receive "F" grade in five states

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