By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Wednesday, March 25, Alabama Republicans were stung by a US Supreme Court ruling that potentially could lead to a redo of the legislative redistricting process.
Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange (R) announced in a statement that the US Supreme Court decided Alabama’s redistricting case, Alabama Legislative Black Caucus and Alabama Democratic Conference v. Alabama.
Strange explained that the plaintiffs challenged Alabama’s most recent House and Senate Districts. The lower federal district court upheld the districts. The Supreme Court held that the district court applied the wrong legal standards, and it vacated the lower court’s decision. The case will now return to the district court for reconsideration.
AG Strange said, “While I am disappointed that the Supreme Court vacated the district court’s decision, the Court did not invalidate the redistricting plan as a whole or any specific district. My office will continue defending the State’s legislative districts.”
Alabama Republican Party Chairwoman Terry Lathan issued a written statement: “This week the Supreme Court of the United States handed down two rulings; one that directly affects the state of Alabama and another that indirectly upholds our Voter ID law. This morning the Supreme Court directed the state of Alabama to return to the District Court on the question of legislative redistricting. They did not overturn or reverse the redistricting lines established by the legislature in 2012, but are remanding the case back to the District Court to answer questions the Supreme Court did not believe were properly addressed. While no one knows a timetable on this event, it will probably be a lengthy process with many legal conversations and input. We will now wait for the District Court to revisit this topic.”
State Representative Tim Wadsworth (R) said on Facebook, “The US Supreme Court did NOT strike down any districts or reverse the plan. Rather, the Court sent the case back down to the lower court for a re-determination of the redistricting plan using a different and more clarified analysis that the Court determined was needed in an often complicated area of law.”
Chairwoman Lathan wrote, “The Alabama Republican Party has full confidence in our leadership team, headed by Governor Bentley, Pro Tem Del Marsh and Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard, to address this Supreme Court ruling.”
Chair Lathan added, “Just two days before the Supreme Court returned this issue back to our State, they also batted away a Wisconsin challenge to overturn their state’s strict Voter ID law. In doing so, that decision also firmly upholds the Voter ID law passed in 2011 by the Alabama State legislature and signed by our governor.”
After this decision, the House and Senate districts remain the same. While Republicans assert that there is no need to hold new elections or reapportion the legislative districts that decision will ultimately be decided by the courts.
The Alabama Political Reporter spoke to Alabama State Senator Jim McClendon (R-Springville) about what will happen next in the case. Sen. McClendon who was a key architect of the redistricting plan said, “There will be no negotiation. Our job is to defend the plan…We got a favorable ruling (from the lower court) last time, we may get another one.”
Eric Holder’s (D) Department of Justice gave the State pre-clearance of the plan before the Court ruled the pre-clearance requirement unconstitutional.