Plaintiffs sued in federal court to require Alabama to draw a second majority-Black Congressional district under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.
Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 forbids the enactment of voting practices and policies that intentionally discriminate based upon race, color, or membership in a non-English language group or have a discriminatory result. In redistricting, Section 2 has been interpreted to require that political districts — including congressional districts — not be drawn to prevent voters of color from electing a candidate of their choice.
After the 2020 Census, Alabama was allocated seven congressional districts. The state’s population is approximately 66% white and 34% Black. Only one of the seven districts drawn by the Republican-controlled legislature is a Black-majority district. In November 2021, two groups of plaintiffs sued in federal court, alleging the newly enacted congressional map diluted the votes of Black voters in violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. The plaintiffs asserted the map diluted Black representation by packing Black voters into a single district when Alabama could have drawn two congressional districts that allowed them the opportunity to elect candidates of their choice.
Upon review by a three-judge panel, the court found that the congressional districts violated Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act and ordered a second district for Black voters to be drawn. The defendants appealed to the Supreme Court, which in a 5 – 4 decision, stayed the district court's order until the case could be heard by the Supreme Court on the merits.
Ahead of the Supreme Court hearing, the League of Women Voters of Alabama and LWVUS filed an amicus brief along with the Southern Poverty Law Center and Stand Up Mobile. The amicus brief explored the deep connections between residents of the Black Belt and residents living near Mobile, allowing the drawing of a second majority-Black district encompassing those residents.
LWV is represented by Schulte Roth & Zabel LLP.
Plaintiffs file complaint
Several Alabama voters, Greater Birmingham Ministries, and the Alabama State Conference of the NAACP file a complaint, asserting that the state’s newly enacted congressional districts were racially gerrymandered in Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.
Federal court strikes down the districts
A three-judge panel of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Alabama strikes down the districts as an illegal racial gerrymander under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. The Alabama Legislature was given 14 days to draw a new map with a second majority-Black Congressional district.
Defendants apply to US Supreme Court for a stay of district court’s order
Supreme Court grants the defendants’ application for a stay
The Supreme Court consolidates Milligan v. Merrill and Caster v. Merrill and stays the orders issued in both cases, leaving Alabama’s congressional map in place for the 2022 election, pending further proceedings.
LWV files amicus brief
The League of Women Voters of Alabama and the League of Women Voters of the US, together with the Southern Poverty Law Center and Stand Up Mobile, file an amicus brief calling on the Supreme Court to require Alabama to draw a second majority-Black congressional district.
Supreme Court hears oral arguments
Alabama disobeys the Supreme Court
In response to Supreme Court's ruling, the Alabama Legislature enacts a new map that contains only one majority-Black district, in direct opposition to the panel's order.
Three judge panel rejects remedial maps enacted by the legislature
After objections by the plaintiffs, the three-judge panel rejects the Alabama Legislature's remedial maps, ruling they did not comply with the order requiring the drawing of a second majority-Black district. The panel appoints a special master to draw remedial maps for the court to implement.
Alabama requests emergency stay from Supreme Court
After the three-judge panel rejected its remedial maps and subsequent request for a stay pending appeal, Alabama requests an emergency stay from the Supreme Court. The application argues that the legislature was not required to draw a majority-Black Congressional district to satisfy Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.
Supreme Court denies emergency application for stay
In an unsigned order with no noted dissents, the Supreme Court rejects Alabama's emergency application for a stay.
Court adopts remedial map
The court selects a remedial map drawn by the special master and orders Alabama to implement it for the 2024 Congressional elections. The new map contains two districts whose Black voting age populations are 51.9% and 48.7%, providing Black voters there an opportunity to elect candidates of their choice.