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Alabama voting rights lawsuit will go forward, will not impact 2020 election

A federal judge's initial ruling in a voting rights lawsuit about Alabama's congressional districting plan will not affect Alabama's congressional d...

On Wednesday, March 27, a federal judge’s initial ruling in a voting rights lawsuit regarding the State of Alabama’s congressional districting plan means there will be no change in Alabama’s congressional district map for the upcoming 2020 U.S. House elections.

“I am pleased that U.S. District Judge Bowdre agreed with the Attorney General’s argument that the plaintiffs in the voting rights lawsuit against the State of Alabama’s congressional districting plan waited too long to file their legal challenge,” said Attorney General Marshall. Any attempt by the plaintiffs to alter Alabama’s congressional map, should they ultimately prevail in their lawsuit, would not occur until after the upcoming 2020 congressional elections. The bottom line is the upcoming 2020 congressional elections in Alabama will not be affected by the lawsuit as it progresses in court.

The plaintiffs in Chestnut v. Merrill, alleged that the Voting Rights Act requires Alabama to draw a new congressional districting plan that includes two majority-black districts. The Attorney General’s office says plaintiffs argued that the litigation should be made soon, so that the new districts could be in place for the 2020 congressional elections.

The Attorney General has questioned whether two majority-black districts can be drawn in Alabama without splitting important communities of interest or engaging in unconstitutional racial gerrymandering.

The federal court’s order addressed the Attorney General’s arguments that the plaintiffs waited too long to file suit. According to the Attorney General’s office, the challenged districts have been in place since 2011, but the plaintiffs waited until 2018 to file suit, after the challenged districts had been used in four elections, and just two years before the next census, which will require the Alabama Legislature to draw new districts.

As reported by the Attorney General’s office, the district court agreed that back-to-back redistricting would prejudice the State and that Alabama can use the existing districts in the next election. 

The Plaintiffs’ remaining claim for a declaratory judgment will go forward, but the district court ruled that the plaintiffs’ claim for injunctive relief is barred.

Source: Office of the Attorney General of the State of Alabama