Federal Court Rejects Alabama’s Bid To Pause Ruling On Congressional Map

WASHINGTON, D.C.  — On Monday, Sept. 11, a panel of three federal judges declined to pause a decision blocking Alabama from implementing a congressional map that does not contain a second majority-Black district. 

Last week, the same three-judge panel blocked the implementation of Alabama’s new congressional map — enacted by the state’s Republican governor and passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature in late July — that does not have a second majority-Black district. The map was passed by Republicans in direct defiance of a 2022 court order that required a second majority-Black district. As a result of their failure to comply, a court-appointed special master will now draw Alabama’s congressional map for the 2024 election cycle, a decision that was immediately appealed by Republican Secretary of State Wes Allen (R). 

Shortly after the court’s pro-voting ruling, Allen asked the three-judge panel to pause its decision while the appeal is ongoing. In Allen’s request to pause the court’s order, he argued that Alabama’s appeal is “likely to succeed on the merits.”  

Today, the court fervently rejected that claim, writing that “it is exceptionally unusual for a litigant who has presented his arguments to the Supreme Court once already — and lost — to assert that he is now ‘overwhelmingly likely’ to prevail on those same arguments in that Court in this case.” 

The court determined that Alabama is not entitled to a ruling pausing the court’s strike down of their unlawful congressional map and wrote that “[i]n any event, we find that the Secretary is likely to lose on appeal. The Secretary has lost three times already, and one of those losses occurred on appeal.” 

The court highlighted that Alabamians voted under an unlawful plan in 2021 and held that the “Secretary offers no reason, let alone a compelling one, why Alabamians should have to wait that long to vote under a lawful congressional districting map…Having prevailed at every turn so far, the Plaintiffs are entitled to relief. Having lost at every turn so far, the Secretary cannot support a demand that Alabamians again cast their votes under an unlawful map while he tries for the fourth time to prevail.” 

The panel — composed of two Trump appointees and a Reagan appointee — reiterated that they are troubled by Alabama’s continued defiance in the wake of Allen v. Milligan

“We repeat that we are deeply troubled that the State enacted a map that the Secretary readily admits does not provide the remedy we said federal law requires… The law requires the creation of an additional district that affords Black Alabamians, like everyone else, a fair and reasonable opportunity to elect candidates of their choice. Without further delay,” the judges concluded. 

Alabama’s congressional map that does not have a second majority-Black district remains blocked. Today, the plaintiffs and defendants submitted their proposed remedial maps to the special-master for consideration. The court-appointed special master will submit proposed plans to the court by Sept. 25. Meanwhile, Allen has appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court and has stated that he intends to ask the Supreme Court to pause the district court’s decision that blocked the Republican-enacted congressional plan. 

Read the order denying the emergency motion to stay here.

Learn more about the case here.