US Supreme Court tells lower court to take another look at Alabama’s 2012 redistricting

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - The first thing you need to understand about this ruling is that for now, the district lines stand.

The Alabama Legislative Black Caucus and Alabama Democratic Conference challenged the redistricting, claiming it used race as a predominant determinant when drawing lines. The district court that heard the case ruled in favor of the state.

The US Supreme Court heard an appeal, and Attorney Jake Watson explains, "It hasn't found the redistricting unconstitutional. It's just sent it back down for further finding."

So what did the Supreme Court have a problem with?

Democrats challenged that the entire state's redistricting process predominantly relied on race. They pointed to four senate districts in particular -- 7, 11, 22, and 26.

The district court said that democrats could not prove there was a statewide problem. The Supreme Court ruled that problems in individual districts are a statewide problem.

Watson elaborates, "I think they were telling the district court that they were asking the wrong questions and sent it back for certain questions to be answered."

The Supreme Court specifically focused on District 26 in Montgomery. In that district, the state plan added 15,785 voters. Only 36 of them were white.

The ruling indicates the high court believes race may have played a predominant role there.

However, it does not go as far as to rule that way.

Watson notes, "The United States Supreme Court perhaps didn't have the proper evidence or proper record before it to make those final determinations. And it may very well go back up to the United States Supreme Court for those final determinations."

As for getting back in front of the district court, Watson estimates, "It could be anything from ninety days to longer. They're going to have to get it docketed and certain things will have to take place."

Watson says he finds it likely that the state will still be using the current lines during the 2016 election. Even if the district court strikes down the redistricting, the lines would still need to be redrawn. Plus, either the way the district court rules would likely be appealed to the US Supreme Court again.