The U.S. Supreme Court rejected Alabama’s emergency bid Tuesday to block lower court rulings, which required the state to redraw its seven-seat congressional map to include a second Black majority district. File Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI | License Photo
Sept. 26 (UPI) -- In a ruling that could affect the 2024 elections, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected Alabama's emergency bid Tuesday to block lower court rulings, requiring the state to redraw its seven-seat congressional map to include a second Black majority district.
The justices issued a one-line ruling, stating the Supreme Court's opinion had not changed since June when it issued a 5-4 decision that Alabama Republicans had discriminated against Black voters in their redrawn congressional district map.
Lower court rulings invalidated the latest GOP map, which still showed only one Black majority district despite the state's 27% Black population, calling it a clear violation of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Alabama currently has six Republicans and one Democrat in the U.S. House of Representatives.
After June's ruling, Alabama GOP lawmakers approved a second congressional map, again with only one Black majority district. A three-judge district court, where two of the judges were appointed by former President Donald Trump, ruled that the lawmakers had defied their instructions to draw a second Black majority district.
"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," wrote the judges, who ordered a cartographer and special master to submit three proposed maps. The maps were submitted Monday by Special Master Richard Allen.
"The court gutted the state's discretion to apply traditional redistricting principles in 2023, by expressly refusing to defer to them when they didn't yield the 'right' racial results," Alabama's Attorney General Steve Marshall, a Republican, argued in response.
"The 2023 plan departed from existing district lines to unify the Black Belt, it split the minimum number of county lines necessary to equalize population among districts and it made the map significantly more compact through changes to each district," Marshall said.
The ACLU and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, which challenged both district maps, urged the justices to reject the redrawn boundaries, arguing the maps diluted Black voting power.
Following Tuesday's Supreme Court decision, the plaintiffs -- represented by the NAACP Legal Defense Fund -- issued a statement, saying, "Black Alabamians deserve a second opportunity district."
"It has been a long and frustrating battle holding the Alabama legislature accountable, but today it is a rewarding one," the plaintiffs said. "Even after the highest court in the land sided with Black voters in June, our elected officials still chose power over people by outright defying multiple court orders, and the loud cries of their constituents to do the right thing."
"Despite these shameful efforts, the Supreme Court has once again agreed that Black Alabamians deserve a second opportunity district. This additional representation in Congress will undoubtedly change lives, especially for the hundreds of thousands of Alabamians residing in the Black Belt who suffer from lack of healthcare access, job opportunities, and crumbling infrastructure. We look forward to a new era in our state's history, in which power is shared and Black voices are heard."