A slate of federal judges just forbade Alabama’s secretary of state from moving forward with using a Supreme Court-defying congressional map in upcoming elections.
On Tuesday, the panel of three judges — one who was appointed by Democratic former President Bill Clinton and the other two by former President Donald Trump — ruled that the state legislature failed to comply with rulings from a district court as well as the Supreme Court which ordered lawmakers to draw up a congressional map with “two districts in which Black voters either comprise a voting-age majority or something quite close to it.”
In July, the Alabama legislature quickly met and passed a new congressional map for the 2024 election in open defiance of the district and Supreme Court’s orders: instead of drawing up a second majority-Black district, the legislature instead made it close to 42.5%.
In Tuesday’s ruling, the judges took the responsibility away from the state legislature to even attempt to remedy the solution, instead assigning the task to a special master and a cartographer, Richard Allen and David Ely.
“We have no reason to believe that allowing the Legislature still another opportunity to draw yet another map will yield a map that includes an additional opportunity district,” the judges wrote. “Moreover, counsel for the State has informed the Court that, even if the Court were to grant the Legislature yet another opportunity to draw a map, it would be practically impossible for the Legislature to reconvene and do so in advance of the 2024 election cycle.”
The state previously told the court during a hearing that Alabama Secretary of State Wes Allen needs a congressional map by “early October” in order to be fully prepared for the 2024 elections, meaning the court-appointed special master and cartographer have little time to draw up a new map.
As the New York Times pointed out, several nonpartisan political prognosticators have predicted that the map-to-come could potentially benefit Democrats in the House of Representatives who are eyeing the possibility of reclaiming the majority in 2024.
As it currently stands, Republicans currently hold a narrow majority in the House. But after the ruling in Alabama on Tuesday, along with potential redistricting happening in other states, there’s a higher and higher possibility of that majority getting whittled away in 2024.