HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) — A federal three-judge panel has rejected a request by the State of Alabama to stay its order directing new congressional maps be drawn to address Voting Rights Act problems with the current map.

The court’s order Monday follows its Sept. 5 ruling that found the Alabama Legislature failed to remedy the Voting Rights Act problems identified by the panel and the U.S. Supreme Court.

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The Alabama Legislature held a special session in July and produced a seven-district U.S. House map that did not include a second district featuring a majority or near-majority Black voting age population, as the courts had directed as a remedy. Alabama officials argued that such a second district would be racial gerrymandering.

Following that ruling Alabama asked the three-judge panel to stay its order while Alabama appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. The panel denied that request on Monday.

“We repeat that we are deeply troubled that the State enacted a map that the Secretary readily admits does not provide the remedy we said federal law requires,” the panel said in its order. “And we are disturbed by the evidence that the State delayed remedial proceedings but did not even nurture the ambition to provide that required remedy.

“Under these circumstances, we cannot understand why it would be a reasonable exercise of our discretion to order a stay pending the Secretary’s second appeal. The law requires the creation of an additional district that affords Black Alabamians, like everyone else, a fair and reasonable opportunity to elect candidates of their choice. Without further delay.”

Alabama last week also filed a notice of direct appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

In asking the three-judge panel for the stay the State of Alabama, on behalf of Secretary of State Wes Allen, argued it will eventually prevail on the merits of its argument and that failing to order a stay would bar the state from enforcing a statute enacted by the representatives of its people.

“The Secretary seeks a stay to have a meaningful opportunity to appeal the important legal issues that have been fully presented to this this Court and rejected in its resulting order enjoining use of the 2023 Plan,” attorneys for Alabama said in a Friday court filing. “To do so, the State has first filed its stay motion in this Court, as the rules require.

“Contrary to the Milligan and Caster Plaintiffs’ arguments, the State has consistently and thoroughly argued that it is error to enjoin the 2023 Plan on the basis that it did not create a second majority-minority district, or relatedly that Plaintiffs made a sufficient showing under Gingles that the 2023 Plan violated §2.”

The plaintiffs who filed the original  lawsuit and continue to argue that Alabama’s current congressional map violated the Voting Rights told the three-judge panel on Friday that a stay wasn’t necessary.

“If a party could establish a likelihood of success on appeal by simply disagreeing with a district court injunction affirmed by the Supreme Court, then every losing party in every conceivable case would satisfy the requirement,” the plaintiffs argued. “That would remove all force and effect from the mandate that parties make a ‘strong showing’ that they are likely to prevail on appeal.”

“… the balance of equities tilt decisively against staying this Court’s decision. The Secretary’s only argument to the contrary rests on his oft-repeated fear that the State will be required to conduct elections on a map in which race predominates. This argument ignores the Supreme Court’s and this Court’s repeated conclusions that Plaintiffs’ illustrative plans are ‘reasonably configured’ and that ‘race-based redistricting as a remedy for § 2 violations’ is constitutional.”

Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act reads:

Denial or abridgement of right to vote on account of race or color through voting qualifications or prerequisites; establishment of violation

(a) No voting qualification or prerequisite to voting or standard, practice, or procedure shall be imposed or applied by any State or political subdivision in a manner which results in a denial or abridgement of the right of any citizen of the United States to vote on account of race or color, or in contravention of the guarantees set forth in section 10303(f)(2) of this title, as provided in subsection (b).

(b) A violation of subsection (a) is established if, based on the totality of circumstances, it is shown that the political processes leading to nomination or election in the State or political subdivision are not equally open to participation by members of a class of citizens protected by subsection (a) in that its members have less opportunity than other members of the electorate to participate in the political process and to elect representatives of their choice. The extent to which members of a protected class have been elected to office in the State or political subdivision is one circumstance which may be considered: Provided, That nothing in this section establishes a right to have members of a protected class elected in numbers equal to their proportion in the population.”