On November 16, 2021, a coalition of civil-rights organizations and Alabama voters filed a federal lawsuit against Alabama's Secretary of State and the co-chairs of the State Legislature's redistricting committee challenging the state's enacted congressional plan as violating the U.S. Constitution and federal Voting Rights Act. Specifically, plaintiffs allege that Alabama's congressional plan is an unconstitutional racial gerrymander because race was the predominant consideration when creating and enacting Congressional Districts 1, 2, 3, and 7, and that the plan as a whole was enacted with an intent to racially discriminate against African-American voters in violation of the 14th Amendment's Equal Protection Clause. Additionally, plaintiffs assert that the congressional plan was enacted with the intent and the result of diluting African-American voting strength in violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. They are seeking a judicial declaration that Alabama's congressional plan violates both the 14th Amendment and Section 2 of the VRA, an injunction barring the defendants from implementing or using the plan in any future elections, and for the court to establish a deadline for Alabama to adopt and enact a new congressional plan that includes two majority-minority districts and which does not violate the VRA, federal, or state constitutions and laws.

On January 24, 2022, the court issued an opinion granting in part the plaintiffs' request for a preliminary injunction on the grounds the plaintiffs are "substantially likely" to establish the existence of a Section 2 violation in Alabama's congressional redistricting plan. The court found that Black Alabamians are sufficiently numerous and sufficiently geographically compact to constitute a voting-age majority in a second congressional district, voting in the challenged districts is intensely racially polarized, and under the totality of circumstances, Black voters have less opportunity than other Alabamians to elect candidates of their choice. The court ordered the state legislature to pass a remedial redistricting plan within 14 days which contained either a second majority-Black congressional district or a second district in which Black Alabamians have the opportunity to elect the candidate of their choice, and included a contingency that the court would appoint a special master to draw a plan in the event the state failed to do so. Shortly thereafter, the defendants appealed the decision to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals and sought an emergency stay pending appeal from the U.S. Supreme Court.

On February 7, the U.S. Supreme Court stayed the district court's preliminary injunction order, thereby allowing the plan to be used for the upcoming 2022 election, and treated the stay application as a petition for a writ of certiorari before judgment and granted it. On June 28, the Court stayed and granted certiorari before judgment to a similar appeal of a Section 2 preliminary injunction out of Louisiana, Ardoin v. Robinson, and stated it would hold the case in abeyance pending its decision in Merrill. Oral arguments were held on October 4, 2022.

The Supreme Court issued a fragmented opinion on June 8, 2023. The opinion affirmed the lower court's finding that plaintiffs were reasonably likely to succeed in their claims that Alabama's congressional map violated Section 2.

In the summer of 2023 the state of Alabama repealed and replaced its invalidated congressional map with a new one. Plaintiffs opposed the new map as an inadequate remedy while the state of Alabama defended the map as a new plan drawn to comply with the Supreme Court's opinion in Allen v. Milligan. A hearing was held in August over whether the new map remedied the Section 2 violation found by the district court and affirmed by the Supreme Court previously. The district court once again invalidated Alabama's congressional map in early September and ordered a special master to develop three options for the court to consider by September 25th. Alabama filed a notice of appeal and submitted an emergency application for stay pending appeal with the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court denied the emergency application on September 26 and the district court scheduled a hearing on the Special Master's remedial proposals for October 3.

Related Cases: Caster v. Merrill; Robinson v. Ardoin; Galmon v. Ardoin

Similar Cases: Singleton v. Merrill


U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama, Southern Division - No. 2:21-cv-1530

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit - No. 22-10278

Supreme Court of the United States - No. 21-1086 [Together with No. 21-1087] [Previously No. 21A375, Application for Stay]

U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama, Southern Division - No. 2:21-cv-1530 [Remand]

Supreme Court of the United States - No. 23A231