Court Rejects Second Alabama Congressional Map, Justices Dumbfounded

Alabama has yet to create a satisfactory Congressional district map after the initial plan was rejected by the Supreme Court in June. The State was ordered to redraw the map to properly represent minority voters, however, legislators instead returned a map that failed to do so. On September 5, a three-judge panel again reflected the map and issued a stern reprimand to Republican lawmakers in the state.

The judges said they were not aware of any other time legislators were returned a Congressional map on orders of a federal court that then failed to make the necessary changes. The judges proceeded to remove the responsibility of drawing another map from the legislature and placed the responsibility on two independent individuals.

The first map created by Alabama included a single district with a majority Black population despite more than a quarter of the population of the state identifying as Black. The second map made small adjustments to raise one voting district’s Black representation from “around 30% to nearly 40%.” Democrats and the court held that Alabama should have two Black-majority voting districts at a minimum. Many opponents of the map approved by the state view it as an attempt by Republicans to prevent a second Democrat from being elected to Congress. Around 80% of Black voters in the state self-describe as Democrats.

The process of drawing Congressional maps is done every ten years following the U.S. Census. Three rules govern the process: districts must be relative to one another in terms of population, minorities must be a majority in enough districts to encourage minority voting choices, and districts must be contiguous. The rules follow the belief that minorities are unable to elect candidates they choose in districts dominated by White voters and that by providing districts with race-based limits, more minority candidates will be elected.

According to Alabama’s only Black Republican state senator, Sen. Kenneth Paschal, using race to determine how a voter will vote is an antiquated idea. Paschal voted in favor of the Congressional map refused by the Supreme Court.

“The people in Shelby County in my district they did not vote for me because of the color of my skin. They voted for me because they saw a God-fearing man, a veteran who served his country, loved the country, who got out and got engaged with the people in the community,” Paschal said. “What I have been hearing is a lot of focus on race and skin color.”

The independent redistricting team must have the map completed and approved by October in order to allow enough time before the 2024 election cycle begins.