The Supreme Court has rejected requests from Alabama officials to utilize a congressional map drawn by GOP state lawmakers for upcoming elections. This decision upholds a lower court ruling that blocked the district lines due to potential violations of federal law. It means that a special master appointed by a federal district court will continue work on a new congressional map. The Supreme Court’s denial marks the end of Alabama’s defiance of the Voting Rights Act, according to lawyer Abha Khanna.
The dispute over Alabama’s congressional map began last year when state officials asked the Supreme Court for emergency relief regarding the redistricting process. In a surprising decision, the high court upheld a lower court ruling that invalidated the state’s voting lines for its seven congressional districts. This ruling was due to a likely violation of the Voting Rights Act. The court ordered state lawmakers to redraw the map to include a second district that would give Black voters equal opportunity to elect their desired candidate. Alabama lawmakers reconvened and enacted a new map, but it was quickly challenged by voting rights groups. The district court blocked its use in the next election, appointing a special master to draft a different map.
Alabama officials turned to the Supreme Court once again in hopes of halting the district court’s order and maintaining the lines drawn by state lawmakers. They argued that the state would have no chance to appeal if the map was replaced by a court-drawn one. However, the challengers to the district lines accused Alabama officials of defying court orders and preventing Black voters from having a fair chance to elect candidates of their choice. The outcome of this redistricting fight, along with others in the South, will impact the 2024 midterm elections, particularly as Democrats aim to take control of the House from Republicans. Former Attorney General Eric Holder hailed the Supreme Court’s decision as a victory for all Americans, particularly voters of color.