Federal Court Denies Alabama Secretary of State’s Motion to Stay Ruling

A three-judge federal court has denied a motion from Alabama’s secretary of state to stay a ruling requiring a special master to draw three potential congressional maps later this month. The court found that the state’s earlier redistricting proposals likely diluted the votes of Black Alabamians.

The three-judge panel, consisting of U.S. Circuit Court Judge Stanley Marcus and U.S. District Court Judges Anna Manasco and Terry Moorer, stated that there was no emergency as claimed by Alabama Secretary of State Wes Allen. They also noted that Allen failed to show that Alabama is likely to succeed on the merits of the case while appealing the decision for a special master.

A special master has until September 25 to deliver three remedial maps for the federal court to decide Alabama’s congressional districts in the 2024 elections.

The judges emphasized that Alabama’s response to the federal court’s order was uncommon, as the state legislature submitted a plan that does not provide an additional opportunity district, as required. They also highlighted that it is unusual for a litigant to assert that they are overwhelmingly likely to prevail on the same arguments in the Supreme Court after having already lost.

The judges stated that there was no emergency, as the schedule for alternative maps is proceeding according to the agreed timeline. They pointed out that Alabama lawmakers did not submit a motion for an emergency stay, which undermines the secretary’s position. They clarified that it is the legislature’s responsibility to draw districts, while the secretary administers elections.

The federal court had previously ruled that Alabama needed a second district where Black voters have the opportunity to elect a candidate of their choice. However, the map passed by the legislature did not include an additional district that adequately represented Black Alabamians.

Given these circumstances, the judges concluded that ordering a stay pending the secretary’s second appeal would not be a reasonable exercise of their discretion, as the law requires the creation of an additional district that ensures a fair and reasonable opportunity for Black Alabamians to elect candidates of their choice.