CASE SUMMARY

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. The defendants appealed this decision the following 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; Caster v. Merrill

CASE LIBRARY

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

U.S. Supreme Court - No. 21-1086 [Together with No. 21-1087] [Previously No. 21A375, Application for Stay]