Court orders Alabama congressional map include second Black district after Republicans defy Voting Rights Act

A federal court Tuesday vowed to draw a new Alabama congressional map including a second Black-majority district after the Republican-dominated state refused to obey its previous order to rectify its violation of the Voting Rights Act.

Accusing the state of “deeply troubling” defiance, the three-judge panel ruled a special master will draw a map in time for the 2024 election with two Black districts instead of just one.

“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,” the judges wrote. “(Alabama) plainly fails to do so.”

The scathing 198-page ruling slaps down Alabama for effectively ignoring its previous order, which was upheld by the conservative dominated U.S. Supreme Court.

The panel, which includes two judges appointed by former President Donald Trump, will now draw its own map to replace the state’s map that Republicans conceded included only one Black district.

Alabama is expected to appeal the new ruling to the Supreme Court, arguing it should not be forced to consider race in drawing districts. But it’s considered a long shot since the top court ruled against it once already.

Alabama has just one Black lawmaker for its seven congressional seats despite Black Alabamians making up 28% of the population.

The court ruled that set-up violates the federal Voting Rights Act and ordered the state to add a second Black-majority district. The state instead merely tweaked one district to slightly increase the number of Black voters, but left it far short of a majority.

With time running short before the 2024 election, the court won’t give the state another bite at the apple.

Voting experts say it will be a simple task to draw a new map with two Black districts that would comply with the Voting Rights Act.

The aggressive ruling could help Democrats flip a handful of seats in other Deep South states that have used the same strategy of cramming Black and minority voters into as few congressional districts as possible.

Lawsuits have challenged congressional maps in states including Louisiana, Georgia, South Carolina and Texas, where the GOP used a similar tactic to limit the power of the fast-growing Latino community.