(The Center Square) — A three-judge panel chose the new congressional map for Alabama in an order issued Thursday that creates a second Black majority district.
The three U.S. judges – Stanley Marcus, Anna Manasco and Terry Moorer – picked the third of three potential remedial plans drawn by a court-appointed special master and a cartographer. They also ordered Alabama to use the map to conduct its 2024 elections.
“We conclude that Remedial Plan 3 completely remedies the likely Section Two violation we identified while best preserving the State’s legislative preferences, as expressed through the 2023 Plan, and otherwise complies with the requirements of the Constitution and the Voting Rights Act of 1965,” the order read.
In the order, the judges said voting in Alabama is “extremely racially polarized,” acknowledging that the minority “opportunity” district will likely be a pickup for Democrats in 2024.
The plan will carve a new 2nd District that will stretch the width of the state from from northern Mobile County to the Wiregrass region of southeastern Alabama.
The remainder of Mobile and Baldwin counties will remain together in the 1st Congressional District.
The judges said in their order that this district will have a Black voting age population of 48.7%, smaller than the 7th District (the state’s existing minority-majority district) with a Black population of 51.9%.
Also, the judges said “splitting the Gulf Coast is necessary to remedy the vote dilution we identified.”
In a previous order that compared the three plans, the court said the third plan “is the most compact of the three plans” and “has only six county splits.” They also said the third plan “retains the largest portion of the population of the city of Mobile (90.4%) and the city of Birmingham (93.3%) within a single district.”
The state tried to keep maps drawn during July’s special session that kept the state with one majority Black district, but the three-judge panel (with two judges appointed by former President Donald Trump) rejected those claims last month.
On June 8, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision in Allen v. Milligan that said Alabama’s previously-drawn map violated the Voting Rights Act and ordered new maps that create an “opportunity district” for minority voters to cast ballots for the candidates of their choice.