HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — The U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments Tuesday morning in a lawsuit alleging the Alabama map of congressional districts improperly dilutes the voting power of Black voters in the state.
The high court ordered the hearing after Alabama appealed the ruling of a three-judge panel.
That panel agreed with the plaintiffs in the case and directed the Alabama Legislature to redraw the seven-district map to include two majority Black districts or two near-majority Black districts. The panel had directed the maps to be redrawn in time for Alabama’s primary election in May.
But the State of Alabama appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The district court had pointed out that the previous map had been drawn in a week by the Alabama Legislature and assigned experts to help redraw the map if the Legislature failed to do so.
Alabama argued the court was wrong in its reading of the law and on the ordered remedy. The state has argued the district map does not discriminate. It says the map follows geographic and shared interest patterns and that district maps can’t be solely based on race.
Attorneys for Alabama also argued attempting to redraw the map in an election year would cause chaos.
In a 5-4 opinion on Feb. 7, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to overturn the district court’s stay of the congressional election in Alabama until a new map is drawn.
Justice Brett Kavanaugh agreed that it was too close to an election to redraw the map, but he said they were not deciding the merits of the court’s finding that Alabama’s map violated the Voting Rights Act.
The merits of the case will be argued Tuesday.
JaTaune Bosby, the ACLU of Alabama’s executive director, told News 19 Monday that Alabama has long been in the middle of battles to ensure the right to vote.
“What we are hoping is that they will set a precedent, the court will set a precedent,” she said. “to ensure that fair maps being drawn for the State of Alabama, for communities, and particularly for the Black community, is upheld and ensuring that we are maintaining a strong democracy. And that’s what this is about: protecting a strong democracy and emphasizing the importance of that.”
The most recent Census found Black residents make up 27% of the state’s population.