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Alabama continues fighting to ignore SCOTUS voting rights decision
Also: Law Dork hit 20,000 total subscribers on Tuesday. Thank you so much.
Alabama Secretary of State Wes Allen plans to go back to the Supreme Court on Thursday to ask the justices to ignore the fact that Alabama ignored the court’s own June voting rights ruling, as well as lower court rulings ordering Alabama to give Black voters in the state the opportunity to elect two congressional representatives of their choosing.
Allen, supported by Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall, wants the justices to allow the state to implement its latest illegal map that only contains one such “opportunity district” — with the intention of using it in the 2024 elections.
The real question is whether the Supreme Court will allow this brazen effort to ignore the law, the federal courts, and its own ruling.
How did we get here?
On Tuesday, the three-judge panel that has been hearing the challenge to Alabama’s congressional redistricting efforts issued a blistering ruling about the map passed by the legislature over the summer in the wake of June’s Supreme Court ruling, concluding that that state “did not even nurture the ambition to provide the required remedy” of creating a second “opportunity district” in the state. The court ultimately blocked Allen from using that map.
As voting rights lawyer Abha Khanna, one of the lawyers who argued successfully at the Supreme Court in 2022 against Alabama’s efforts, told me in August, “They object to the premise that they should have to be drawing such an opportunity district in the first place.”
As part of Tuesday’s ruling, the district court directed a special master to devise three maps that would adhere to the Voting Rights Act and create a second “opportunity district” by the end of this month, with a hearing on any objections set for Oct. 3. Specifically, the district court ordered (quoting from its earlier order in the case), “each proposed map shall ‘include 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.’”
Alabama’s efforts to limit the rights of Black voters is, of course, not new. But, this current iteration of Alabama’s efforts shows a hope that merely objecting could change the outcome — or at least delay changes in order to allow the state to continue to dilute the voting power of Black voters in the state.
Soon after Tuesday’s ruling, Alabama filed notices that it would be appealing the ruling and filed a motion for the district court to stay its ruling — a request to put Tuesday’s ruling on hold and, therefore, allow Alabama to implement and use its illegal map. If that doesn’t happen, Marshall made clear, the state would keep fighting.
“Secretary Allen intends to file an application for a stay pending appeal with the Supreme Court on September 7, 2023,” Marshall then wrote.
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Late Tuesday, Law Dork hit 20,000 total subscribers (combined paid and free subscribers). I could not be happier about the fact that my 200th post here is, in part, about this milestone. I like numbers that work well together, what can I say?
When I started Law Dork in late June 2022, I wrote a bit about my plans. I had no real clue just how on the mark I would be about what I would be covering here:
As the 6-3 conservative — and ever-more-reactionary five-justice majority — Supreme Court nears the end of its term and the January 6 Committee continues its hearings and the far right goes after drag queens (and continues to attack trans people), the coming months could be increasingly complicated at best and dangerous at worst for many people across the country.
Last week, I spent a lot of time writing about a prosecutor who threatened, though ultimately unsuccessfully, to enforce an anti-drag law against a pride event. Trans people remain under attack — and not just from the far right.
And, then there’s the Supreme Court — and lower court judges whose actions suggest that they also feel empowered by the high court’s actions over the past two years to draw outside the lines themselves. And ethics questions.
The court will start its new term in October, so there will be much more here at Law Dork on all of that in the weeks and months ahead.
For today, I just want to stop and thank all of you for supporting this venture as I launched it, as I have tried to find my footing here, and as we head into … whatever comes next.
It is going better than I ever imagined, and I am full of gratitude that you all are helping to make it possible for me to do this as my full-time job — and in a way that I can be proud of myself and my work.
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