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Alabama appeals to Supreme Court in redistricting fight

January 28, 2022 GMT

Alabama on Friday asked the U.S. Supreme Court to place a hold on a ruling that will require the state to draw new congressional districts,

Lawyers for the state asked the justices to stay a preliminary injunction issued by a three-judge panel on Monday. The injunction blocks the state from using current congressional districts in the upcoming elections. The three judges had ruled Alabama’s current map likely violates the Voting Rights Act and that the state should have an additional district with a significant number of Black voters.

In the emergency filing, lawyers for the state argued that the injunction will throw state elections into chaos and require the state to draw districts based primarily on race instead of other factors.

“Without this Court’s intervention, Alabama’s only choices are effectively no choices at all: a state-drawn racially gerrymandered map or a court-drawn racially gerrymandered map,” lawyers for the state wrote. “Moreover, this overhaul of Alabama’s congressional map at this late hour would require the last-minute reassignment of hundreds of thousands of voters to new districts and could force candidates and groups seeking ballot access to obtain thousands of new signatures.”

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Facing a tight timeline, Alabama asked the court to issue an administrative stay followed by a stay or an injunction pending appeal. The state’s qualifying deadline for political candidate was Friday, but the three-judge panel extended the deadline until Feb. 11 for congressional candidates.

Alabama is currently represented by one Black Democrat elected from the state’s only majority-Black district and six white Republicans elected from heavily white districts. About 27% of the state’s population is Black.

The three-judge panel wrote Monday that, “Black voters have less opportunity than other Alabamians to elect candidates of their choice to Congress” under Alabama current map.

The judges wrote 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.”