Federal judges question Alabama’s new congressional map, lack of 2nd majority-Black district

Federal judges reviewing Alabama’s new congressional map on Monday sharply questioned if state lawmakers ignored the court’s directive to create a second-majority Black district, so minority voters have a fair opportunity to influence elections.

The three-judge panel held a hearing as they weigh whether to let the map stand or to step in and draw new congressional districts for the state. The panel heard arguments Monday but did not indicate when it would rule.

Alabama was forced to draw new district lines after the U.S. Supreme Court, in a surprise June decision, upheld the panel’s earlier finding that the state’s then-map — which had just one Black-majority district out of seven in a state where more than one in four residents is Black — likely violated the federal Voting Rights Act.

Lawyers for plaintiffs in the case argued Monday that the new plan, which maintains one majority-Black district, still discriminates against Black voters. They said it flouts the panel’s 2022 finding that Alabama should have two districts where Black voters comprise a majority or “something quite close to it.”

All three judges pointedly asked the state’s lawyer whether Alabama had ignored their finding that the state should have a second district where Black voters have an opportunity to elect their preferred candidates.

U.S. District Judge Terry F. Moorer asked if Alabama had chosen to “deliberately disregard” the court’s instruction. U.S. Circuit Judge Stanley Marcus asked the state, “Were you not required to draw a new map (that provides a reasonable) opportunity (district for Black voters)?”

Edmund LaCour, Alabama’s solicitor general, said the redrawn map was as “close as you get” to creating a second majority-Black district without violating the U.S. Constitution or traditional redistricting criteria.

“I think it is close as you get without violating the Constitution,” LaCour said.




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