On Thursday a federal court made their final selection on a new 2024 congressional map for Alabama that adequately addresses the dilution of Black voting power in the state.
The decision comes two days after the court heard arguments from interested parties about which of the three special master remedial maps they asserted the court should adopt. U.S. Circuit Judge Stanley Marcus said the court would “rule shortly” on Tuesday. The three-judge panel did just that and ruled that the state must adopt remedial plan 3.
In their 49-page ruling, the panel said remedial plan 3 satisfies all the necessary requirements while at the same time remaining as close as possible to the Alabama Legislature’s 2023 plan.
“As we explain, this plan satisfies all constitutional and statutory requirements while hewing as closely as reasonably possible to the Alabama Legislature’s 2023 Plan,” the ruling stated.
The court also elaborated that “Remedial Plan 3” did not split certain counties and cities as much as the other two maps did. Plan 3 only splits six counties whereas the other two plans split seven counties. The Black Voting Age population in District 2 comes to 48.7 percent and the BVAP in District 7 totaled at 51.9 percent.
“Remedial Plan 3 better respects municipal boundaries and the communities interest that the Legislature identified,” the court wrote in their order. “…Accordingly, we find that of all the proposed remedial plans before us, Remedial Plan 3 “most closely approximate[s]” the plan that the Legislature enacted and we enjoined.”
The decision comes after two years of Black voters challenging Alabama’s congressional maps in the courts through several different cases including Allen v.Milligan. Many pundits see the ruling as being consequential for Alabama and the makeup of Congress itself. The ruling now offers a possibility for two Black people to represent Alabama in Congress, for Black voters to have fair voting chances and for Democrats nationally to regain a seat in the House of Representatives.
“Today’s order means for the first time, Black voters in two congressional districts will have an opportunity to elect a candidate of their choice,” said JaTaune Bosby Gilchrist, the executive director of the ACLU of Alabama. “It is unfortunate that federal courts were forced to put in place a congressional map that state lawmakers refused to admit is the right thing to do, but we are thankful for their intervention. Our democracy is strongest when we make it possible for every vote to be counted. Putting in place fair voting maps moves us closer to that reality.”
The Alabama Democratic Party also released a statement by their executive director, Tom Miro, celebrating the decision.
With the adoption of a fair congressional map, the new opportunity district provides Black voters with a realistic chance to elect a representative of their choice,” Miro said. “The Alabama Democratic Party celebrates that the Voting Rights Act has been upheld. Importantly, the Alabama Legislature and Attorney General were unsuccessful in their attempts to defy the Supreme Court and thwart the rule of law. We are heartened that the Court recognized Alabama’s long and contentious history of denying Black voters their constitutional rights and equal treatment. We are looking forward to a Democrat having a viable chance to earn the trust of the voters during the next election and winning this seat.”
In contrast, the Alabama Republican Party released a statement denouncing the court’s decision and remain hopeful in Attorney General Steve Marshall’s appeals process.
“While we continue to have the utmost respect for the legal process, we are disappointed with the decision the District Court has reached,” the ALGOP statement read. “Of the three maps, the Court chose the map that is the most Democratic – not the map with the highest minority voting age population. We are hopeful Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall will continue with the appeal process. We believe Alabama’s Congressional Districts should represent the communities of our state, and not be based on the liberal Democrat agenda or the color of people’s skin.”
This is a breaking news story and will be updated as more information becomes available.