Federal court appoints special master to redraw Alabama's redistricting map

A federal court struct down Tuesday a redistricting map that was approved by the Alabama state legislature in July. The court says the map did not provide Black voters with enough majority-districts and that it will appoint a special master to redraw the map. File Photo by Aaron Josefczyk/UPI

Sept. 5 (UPI) -- A federal court ruled Tuesday that Alabama must go back to the drawing board for an updated redistricting map that was approved by the state's legislature in July.

Earlier this year, the Supreme Court upheld a lower court's ruling that struck down a previous redistricting map, arguing that it shut out Black voters from being able to elect their own leaders.

The redistricting map that was drawn last year only had one majority-black district with six majority-white districts, in a state where more than one in four residents is Black.

The lower court said a revamped map must contain an additional district where majority-Black voters could choose their own representation and the Supreme Court agreed.

In Tuesday's ruling, the federal court said, "Counsel for the state has informed the court that, even if the court were to grant the legislature still another opportunity to draw a map, it would be practically impossible for the legislature to reconvene and do so in advance of the 2024 election cycle."

"We are not aware of any other case in which a state legislature -- faced with a federal court order declaring that its electoral plan unlawfully dilutes minority votes and requiring a plan that provides an additional opportunity district -- responded with a plan that the state concedes does not provide that district," Judges Anna Manasco, Terry Moorer and Stanley Marcus wrote.

The court's doubts over the legislature's ability to draw a fair redistricting map prompted it to call for the appointment of a "special master" to redraw the districting map.

"Accordingly, the special master and cartographer are DIRECTED to commence work forthwith on a remedial map," the court said.

The court said a separate order would be issued regarding the special master.

Democratic lawmakers reacted positively to the court's decision.

"By appointing a special master to fairly redraw Alabama's congressional map, the court has rejected the state legislature's latest attempt to dilute the voices and voting power of African Americans all across our state," said Democratic Rep. Terri Sewell.