Federal Judges Toss Redistricting Back to Alabama Lawmakers

The Story:

A panel of three federal district court judges held last week that the legislature in Alabama has to go back to the drawing board: the new districting lines it drew last year do not pass muster given Supreme Court precedents about racial gerrymandering. The state’s attorney general says that the state will be appealing.


Alabama is entitled to seven seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. The delegation now consists of six Republicans and one Democrat. The legislature last year approved a map that retained six majority-white districts and allowed for one majority-Black district.

This seems inadequate to many observers (and to all three of the judges on the panel) because Alabama’s population is roughly 27% Black. The judges said that the legislature needs to create a map in which there will be “two districts in which Black voters either comprise a voting-age majority or something quite close to it.”

The Thing to Know:

Two of the three judges were appointees of President Donald Trump (R). The other was an appointee of President William Jefferson Clinton (D). This is an illustration of the broader point that party affiliation (of a judge or of the appointing President) is not a reliable predictor of decisions even on politically sensitive matters.

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