On September 27, 2021, a group of Alabama voters filed a federal lawsuit against the Alabama Secretary of State challenging the constitutionality of the state's congressional redistricting plan, originally enacted in 2011. The plaintiffs allege that due to population shifts throughout the last decade, the 2011 congressional plan has now become malapportioned in violation of the one person, one vote constitutional principle under Article I, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution. Additionally, the plaintiffs assert that the 2011 congressional plan is a racial gerrymander in violation of the 14th Amendment's Equal Protection Clause because the plan "packs" African-American voters into a single majority-minority district (District 7), thereby minimizing their influence in five neighboring majority-white districts. The plaintiffs also sought to have the court restore Alabama's historical redistricting principle of drawing Congressional districts with whole counties and submitted their own proposed whole-county Congressional plan to support their claims. On November 4, 2021, Alabama's Governor signed a new congressional redistricting plan into law, and the plaintiffs filed an amended complaint removing their malapportionment claim, reasserting their racial gerrymandering claim, and adding a claim that the enacted plan is intentionally racially discriminatory in violation of the 14th and 15th Amendments. The plaintiffs are seeking a judicial declaration that the enacted congressional plan is unconstitutional, an injunction barring the plan from being implemented in future elections, and for the court to implement a lawful, court-ordered congressional plan for the 2022 elections that reflects Alabama's "strong historical preference" for keeping counties whole and accounts for the "significant degree of crossover voting" in the whole-county plan proposed by the plaintiffs.

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.

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 Caster and Milligan district court's order striking down Alabama's enacted congressional plan, thereby allowing the plan to be used for the upcoming 2022 election.

Following oral arguments in the fall of 2022 the Supreme Court found that Plaintiffs were likely to succeed in proving Alabama likely violated the Voting Rights Act.

Alabama repealed and replaced its congressional map in July 2023 and the Singleton plaintiffs objected to the new plan. The district court in Alabama enjoined the use of the new plan and proceeded to impose a remedial plan for 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