On September 27, 2021, a group of Alabama voters filed a federal lawsuit against Alabama’s Secretary of State challenging the state’s 2011 congressional plan as unconstitutionally malapportioned in violation of the one person, one vote principle and as racially gerrymandered in violation of the 14th Amendment.

After Alabama enacted a new congressional plan on November 4, 2021, the plaintiffs filed an amended complaint dropping their malapportionment claim and adding a claim that the new plan was enacted with racially discriminatory intent in violation of the 14th and 15th Amendments. They sought a judicial declaration that the 2021 plan was unconstitutional, an injunction barring the plan from being used in future elections, and a court order requiring the State to implement a new, lawful plan.

  • On January 24, 2022, the district court issued a preliminary injunction after finding the plaintiffs were “substantially likely” to prevail on their VRA § 2 claim and gave the State 14 days to pass a remedial plan. The State appealed to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals and requested an emergency stay from the U.S. Supreme Court.
  • On February 7, 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court (“SCOTUS”) stayed the district court’s preliminary injunction, thereby allowing the plan to be used in the 2022 election. The Court also decided to hear the State’s appeal directly by treating the stay petition as a petition for certiorari before judgment.
  • SCOTUS oral arguments were held on October 4, 2022.
  • On June 8, 2023, SCOTUS affirmed the district court’s preliminary injunction in a 5-4 decision written by Chief Justice Roberts and joined by Justices Kavanaugh, Kagan, Sotomayor, and Jackson.
  • On July 21, 2023, Alabama repealed its congressional plan and enacted a new one (“2023 plan”). On August 14, 2023, the district court held a hearing to consider the plaintiffs’ objections to the 2023 plan.
  • On September 5, 2023, the district court issued an injunction barring the 2023 plan from being used in future elections after finding it failed to remedy the § 2 VRA violation. The court appointed a special master and directed them to file 3 proposed remedial plans by September 25, 2023. Alabama sought an emergency stay from SCOTUS but it was rejected on September 26.
  • The district court held a hearing on the special master’s remedial plans on October 3, 2023, and two days later the district court selected the special master’s “Remedial Plan 3” to be used in the 2024 elections.

Similar Cases: Caster v. Merrill; Milligan v. Merrill


U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama, Southern Division - No. 2:21-cv-1291