Lawyers for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and other groups told the Supreme Court on Wednesday that it should leave in place a lower court opinion ordering Alabama to redraw its congressional map.
A panel of three federal judges, including two appointees of former President Donald Trump, had ruled that the map likely violates Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act because it includes only one district where Black voters can elect a candidate of their choice. Section 2 prohibits voting practices that discriminate on the basis of race.
The court previously said the Republican-led legislature has until February 7 to draw a new map that includes “either an additional majority-Black congressional district, or an additional district in which Black voters otherwise have an opportunity to elect a representative of their choice.”
But Alabama is asking the high court to step in and allow the map to remain in place during the appeals process. The Supreme Court could act at any time.
Wednesday’s filing from the NAACP argues that the lower court “carefully analyzed” an “extremely robust body of evidence” during trial and heard live witness while examining more than 300 pages of exhibits before blocking the map, which had been drafted by Republican lawmakers.
“Defendants have not met their heavy burden; they cannot show that they are likely to prevail on the merits, and their application should be denied for this reason alone. Additionally, the certain injury that the panel found Plaintiffs and the public interest will suffer if the preliminary injunction is stayed far outweighs any administrative expense involved in holding elections – a primary in May, and a general election in November – under a new, legally compliant districting plan,” the filing said.
Election law expert Rick Hasen previously said that the dispute could shed light on how the high court might look at similar challenges that are bound to reach the justices in the run-up to the next election.
“This is the first redistricting and race case of the new decade to make it to the Supreme Court,” Hasen said in a statement. “The case has the potential, but not the certainty, to signal where the Supreme Court is now on questions of considerations of race in redistricting, and the reach and constitutionality of Section 2 of the VRA as applied to redistricting.”