Alabama asked the Supreme Court on Monday evening to freeze a lower court ruling that blocks the state’s newly drawn congressional map, in a filing that critics say defies a Supreme Court opinion that was issued just three months ago.
In a new filing submitted to Justice Clarence Thomas, who oversees emergency matters arising from that part of the country, Alabama state officials are asking for the high court to put the lower court ruling on pause by October 1. But they said the ruling could be put on hold as late as October 3, when lower court proceedings are scheduled for adopting another map to replace the congressional map drawn by the state.
The court has given the groups challenging the maps until September 19 to respond.
In June, a divided Supreme Court agreed that Alabama had diluted the power of Black voters because its congressional map only included one majority Black district in a state that is 27% Black. The 5-4 opinion was penned by Chief Justice John Roberts who drew the votes of fellow conservative Brett Kavanaugh as well as the court’s three liberal justices. Back then, Roberts affirmed a ruling by a three judge district court ordering the state to redraw its congressional map to include a second majority-Black district or “something quite close to it.”
But when Alabama produced its new map in July it came under immediate legal challenge because the state – once again – declined to create a second majority Black district .
In the new filing with the Supreme Court, Alabama argued that the lower court had erred in requiring that a second majority Black district be drawn.
The same three judge panel, which had overseen the case before it reached the Supreme Court, had written that it was “disturbed” by Alabama’s actions in the case and invalidated the maps, ordering a special master to draft new maps.
“We are deeply troubled that the State enacted a map that the State readily admits does not provide the remedy we said federal law requires,” wrote the judges, two of whom were appointed by former President Donald Trump. On Monday, the three judge panel declined to put its ruling on hold pending appeal.
Now Alabama is asking the justices to step in again as it argues that its 2023 maps pass legal muster even if they don’t include a second majority Black district.
“We strongly believe that the Legislature’s map complies with the Voting Rights Act and the recent decision of the U.S. Supreme Court,” the office of Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall said in a statement before the filing. “We intend to promptly seek review from the Supreme Court to ensure that the State can use its lawful congressional districts in 2024 and beyond.”
This redistricting battle – and separate, pending litigation over congressional maps in states such as Georgia and Florida – could determine which party controls the US House of Representatives after next year’s elections. Republicans currently hold a razor-thin majority in the chamber.
This story has been updated with additional developments.
CNN’s Fredreka Schouten and Ethan Cohen contributed to this report.