In Win for Black Voters, Supreme Court Rejects Alabama’s Appeal in Milligan and Reaffirms State Must Draw Second Opportunity District

Affiliate: ACLU of Alabama
September 26, 2023 10:45 am

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WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court today rejected Alabama’s attempt to defy its orders to draw a fair congressional map and has allowed a three-judge panel’s latest decision to stand. Earlier this month, the lower court had rejected the legislature’s new 2023 map because it defied previous orders — and the Supreme Court’s decision in June — by failing to draw a second district in which Black voters have an opportunity to elect a candidate of their choice.

Plaintiffs from the case released the following joint comment:

“It has been a long and frustrating battle holding the Alabama Legislature accountable, but today it is a rewarding one. Even after the highest court in the land sided with Black voters in June, our elected officials still chose power over people by outright defying multiple court orders, and the loud cries of their constituents to do the right thing. Despite these shameful efforts, the Supreme Court has once again agreed that Black Alabamians deserve a second opportunity district.

“This additional representation in Congress will undoubtedly change lives, especially for the hundreds of thousands of Alabamians residing in the Black Belt who suffer from lack of healthcare access, job opportunities, and crumbling infrastructure. We look forward to a new era in our state’s history, in which power is shared and Black voices are heard.”

Following our legal challenge, the Supreme Court in Allen v. Milligan affirmed the trial court’s ruling striking down Alabama’s 2021 map for illegally diluting the power of Black Alabamians in violation of the Voting Rights Act and requiring a new map. The initial 2021 map denied Black voters an opportunity to elect candidates of their choice in all but one of Alabama’s seven congressional districts — even though Black voters make up 27 percent of the state’s voting-age population.

The Alabama Legislature convened in July and created a second map that still fails to include a second opportunity district or otherwise comply with the Voting Rights Act, prompting plaintiffs to continue their challenge. Earlier this month, the three-judge panel also blocked the 2023 map, and assigned a special master to draw a remedial map with a second opportunity district to ensure that Black voters have the representation they deserve.

Plaintiffs Evan Milligan, Khadidah Stone, Letetia Jackson, Shalela Dowdy, Greater Birmingham Ministries, and the Alabama State Conference of the NAACP are represented by the Legal Defense Fund, American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of Alabama, Hogan Lovells LLP, and Wiggins, Childs, Pantazis, Fisher & Goldfarb.

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