Alabama appeals redistricting to U.S. Supreme Court, argues plan will ‘intentionally segregate’ races

By Howard Koplowitz 

Alabama Secretary of State Wes Allen speaks during the inauguration ceremony on the steps of the Ala- bama state Capital in Montgomery, Ala., Monday, Jan. 16, 2023. (AP Photo/Butch Dill, File)AP

Alabama Secretary of State Wes Allen on Monday night urged the U.S. Supreme Court to issue an emergency stay of a federal court’s plan to have a special master redraw state congressional districts, arguing the plan “will intentionally segregate Alabamians based on race.”

Earlier Monday, a three-judge panel in Birmingham federal court denied Allen’s motion for a stay pending Alabama’s appeal of the redistricting case.

The special master has until Sept. 25 to deliver three remedial maps to the federal court to decide Alabama’s congressional districts in the 2024 elections.

The judges ruled last year that Alabama’s map, with one majority Black district out of seven in a state where one-fourth of residents are Black, gave Black voters less of an opportunity than other Alabamians to elect a candidate of their choice.

The U.S. Supreme Court affirmed that ruling on a 5-4 vote in June.

“Absent a stay, the State will be compelled to cede its sovereign redistricting power to a court that will intentionally segregate Alabamians based on race,” Allen wrote in the stay application to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.

“The [Birmingham] District Court has made clear that the only acceptable remedy is one that splits the Gulf Coast to ensure that enough black voters in the Gulf Coast are combined with enough black voters in the Black Belt to guarantee a majority-black district, or something quite close,” Allen continued.

The secretary of state argued that a stay would be in Alabamians’ interests.

“A stay serves the public interest by preserving the opportunity for the legislatively enacted 2023 Plan to be used in the upcoming election, rather than a court-drawn, race-segregated plan,” he wrote.

In denying the stay earlier Monday, the three-judge panel in Birmingham noted that Alabama lawmakers did not join Allen in submitting a motion for an emergency stay.

“This detail is not material to our separate and independent rejection of the Secretary’s arguments about Alabama’s sovereignty, but we cannot help but notice that the Legislators apparently do not share the Secretary’s concern about this ‘emergency,’’ they wrote.

“As a practical matter, the Legislators’ silence undermines the Secretary’s position. It is the Legislature’s task to draw districts; the Secretary simply administers elections,” the judges ruled.