Court-Selected Special Master Taking Over Redistricting From Alabama Republicans

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A three-judge panel in federal court has, as some anticipated, rejected a Congressional district map pushed through by Alabama Republicans after even the U.S. Supreme Court backed the creation of a second district with a Black majority or something substantially close. Republicans in Alabama’s state government implemented a redistricting plan after the Supreme Court’s decision that left Black residents of voting age at under 40 percent of a second district’s population.

An individual fulfilling the role of special master, which refers to an expert tasked by the court with a temporary assignment, will now be drafting a new map for Alabama for the next Congressional elections. Prior actions by Alabama Republicans in the redistricting process had been challenged under provisions of the landmark piece of federal law known as the Voting Rights Act. As highlighted by Democracy Docket, the three-judge panel expressed that they were “disturbed” by the path Alabama Republicans had taken, which — to many — plainly fell short of the plain standards set forth by even the conservatively leaning Supreme Court.

“We are disturbed by the evidence that the State delayed remedial proceedings but ultimately did not even nurture the ambition to provide the required remedy,” the judges said. “And we are struck by the extraordinary circumstance we face. 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.”

In other representative democracy news, Ohio voters ended up overwhelmingly rejecting a recently proposed amendment to their state Constitution that would have made enacting subsequent amendments more difficult. The question of potentially making those changes to the rules was rushed to Ohioans ahead of an anticipated vote later this year on a proposed state amendment that would protect abortion rights, constituting for many a brazenly political affront to the potentially unfolding will of the people of Ohio around access to those disputed health care services.