CASE SUMMARY

On November 4, 2021, a group of African-American Alabama voters filed a federal lawsuit against Alabama's Secretary of State challenging the state's enacted congressional redistricting plan as violating the federal Voting Rights Act. Specifically, plaintiffs assert that the enacted congressional plan violates Section 2 of the VRA because it dilutes African-American voting strength by strategically "cracking" and "packing" African-American voters to form a single majority-minority congressional district when, as plaintiffs allege, Alabama's African-American population is sufficiently large and geographically compact enough to form a majority of eligible voters in two congressional districts. Plaintiffs are seeking a judicial declaration that Alabama's enacted congressional plan violates Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, an injunction barring the plan from being implemented or used in future elections, and for the court to cause the adoption of a valid congressional plan that includes a second majority-African-American district. On November 16, 2021, the court transferred the case to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama where other redistricting challenges were already pending.

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. The defendants appealed this decision the next day.

On February 7, 2022, the district court issued an order appointing Richard Allen as special master and Dr. Nathaniel Persily as expert cartographer and directing them to file their recommended map(s) and accompanying explanatory report with the court by February 22, 2022.

Also on February 7, the U.S. Supreme Court issued an order staying the district court's order striking down Alabama's enacted congressional plan, thereby allowing the plan to be used for the upcoming 2022 election.

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

CASE LIBRARY

U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama - No. 2:21-cv-1536 [formerly No. 2:21-cv-751, transferred from M.D. Ala.]

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit - No. 22-10272

U.S. Supreme Court - No. 21-1087 [Together with No. 21-1086] [Formerly No. 21A376, Application for Stay]