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Federal court rejects state’s congressional maps

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(The Center Square) — A federal three-judge panel rejected the latest congressional maps drawn by the Alabama Legislature on Tuesday.

The panel of U.S. Judges Stanley Marcus, Ana Manasco and Terry Moorer ordered the task of drawing new congressional maps be given to a court-appointed special master and a cartographer.

“We discern no basis in federal law to accept a map the State admits falls short of this required remedy,” the judges said in their decision. “We do not take lightly federal intrusion into a process ordinarily reserved for the State Legislature.

“But we have now said twice that this Voting Rights Act case is not close. And we are deeply troubled that the State enacted a map that the State readily admits does not provide the remedy we said federal law requires.”

The new maps were approved by lawmakers on July 21 after a special session, but fell short of creating a second Black-majority district that the plaintiffs seek. There are seven districts in the state.

“We are disturbed by the evidence that the State delayed remedial proceedings but ultimately did not even nurture the ambition to provide the required remedy,” the order read. “And we are struck by the extraordinary circumstance we face. We are not aware of any other case in which a state legislature – faced with a federal court order declaring that its electoral plan unlawfully dilutes minority votes and requiring a plan that provides an additional opportunity district – responded with a plan that the state concedes does not provide that district.

“The law requires the creation of an additional district that affords Black Alabamians, like everyone else, a fair and reasonable opportunity to elect candidates of their choice. The 2023 Plan plainly fails to do so.”

On June 8, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision in Allen v. Milligan that said Alabama’s previously-drawn map was in violation of 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.

Marcus was appointed during the Clinton administration, Manasco and Moorer each by former President Donald Trump.

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