A federal court on Monday threw out Alabama’s new congressional map, finding that it likely violates the Voting Rights Act, The Montgomery Advertiser reports.
The court in a 225-page decision said that Black voters had "less opportunity than other Alabamians to elect the candidates of their choice to Congress."
The new map would have left the state with a single majority-minority district.
"Both sets of plaintiffs ... suggest, and we agree, that as a practical reality, the evidence of racially polarized voting adduced during the preliminary injunction proceedings suggests that any remedial plan will need to include two districts in which Black voters either comprise a voting-age majority or something quite close to it," the court said.
Evan Milligan, one of the plaintiffs, said that the map "fails Alabama's voters of color."
"We deserve to be heard in our electoral process, rather than have our votes diluted using a map that purposefully cracks and packs Black communities," he said. "Today, the court recognized this harm and has ordered our elected officials to do better."
Second Black district:
The court ordered the state to draw a second significantly Black district after multiple lawsuits argued that Black people living outside of the lone Black-majority district were disenfranchised.
"Alabama’s steadfast refusal to provide Black voters with adequate representation in Congress is a product of intentional discrimination and directly linked to the state’s history and present conditions of discrimination against Black people," Milligan’s lawsuit said. "The state’s intentional policy of disempowerment and discrimination has resulted in the denial of equal opportunity for Black people to participate in the political process in violation of the U.S. Constitution and the VRA."
The court said the state legislature must draw up a new map for its upcoming primaries.
"The Legislature enjoys broad discretion and may consider a wide range of remedial plans," the ruling said. "As the Legislature considers such plans, it should be mindful of the practical reality, based on the ample evidence of intensely racially polarized voting adduced during the preliminary injunction proceedings, that any remedial plan will need to include two districts in which Black voters either comprise a voting-age majority or something quite close to it."
State vows to appeal:
The Alabama Attorney General’s Office on Monday said it “strongly disagreed” with the decision and would appeal the ruling.
The state argued to the court that mapmakers did not consider race when drawing the districts.
There are additional lawsuits challenging the state’s legislative map.
The court on Monday delayed the state’s Jan. 28 filing deadline for candidates to run in the May primaries until February 11. The court said it may create its own map if the legislature does not meet its deadline.