The Supreme Court on Tuesday slapped down Alabama Republicans’ latest attempt to use a congressional district map that only includes one majority-Black district, delivering a major blow in just one sentence.
This is the Supreme Court’s second such ruling in three months. Earlier this summer, the court struck down a similar GOP-drawn congressional map and ordered Alabama to add a second majority-Black district. But Alabama Republicans dug in their heels and approved a similarly problematic congressional map, and asked the Supreme Court to block lower court rulings invalidating it.
And the Supreme Court refused.
“The application for stay presented to Justice Thomas and by him referred to the Court is denied,” the Supreme Court said in a terse statement. There were no noted dissents.
Alabama must now accept a map that has at least two majority-Black districts.
The Supreme Court shocked everyone in June when it ruled 5–4 that Republican-drawn congressional districts in Alabama discriminated against Black voters under the Voting Rights Act. The justices ordered Alabama to redraw the map to include at least two majority-Black districts.
Alabama repeatedly tried to redraw districts in a way that keeps the status quo and dilutes Black votes. The federal appeals court that struck down the latest map appointed a special master to oversee the redistricting.
“We have no reason to believe that allowing the Legislature still another opportunity to draw yet another map will yield a map that includes an additional opportunity district,” the three-judge panel said at the time. “We are disturbed by the evidence that the State delayed remedial proceedings but ultimately did not even nurture the ambition to provide the required remedy.”
Alabama has until October 1 to finalize a new map to ensure that there is enough time to prepare for the 2024 election, according to Republican Secretary of State Wes Allen. State officials will need to reassign voters and print and distribute ballots.
More than a quarter of Alabama residents are Black, but currently only one of Alabama’s seven congressional districts is majority-Black. Black voters are scattered throughout the other districts, dramatically reducing their ability to elect their preferred candidates. As a result of the racial gerrymandering, the state only has one Black representative.
The Supreme Court’s ruling—and the outcome of the new map in Alabama—could have bigger implications across the South, and even help Democrats retake the House in 2024. Several other states, including Louisiana, South Carolina, and Georgia, are facing legal challenges to their racially gerrymandered districts. Those states could see a very different map in the coming election.