Supreme Court Slapped Down Alabama's Last Appeal
There’s going to be some bad news today so let’s start with something good— in Alabama, no less. If you’re a DWT regular, you already know that Alabama Republicans have gone to extraordinary lengths to avoid giving up their “right” to gerrymander the state in such a way as to deny Black citizens representation— as is also done, and is a bone of contention, in Louisiana, South Carolina, Mississippi and Texas. The latest from Alabama Republicans was to go to the Supreme Court to appeal a ruling by a panel of federal judges that called the congressional maps the legislature had drawn as unconstitutional and racist. That failed yesterday, when the Court refused the state’s bid to block the ruling.
Mike Cason reported that “In a one-sentence order, the justices denied Alabama’s request for an emergency stay on the ruling by the three-judge court, which found the map approved by the Legislature in July likely violates the Voting Right Act. The three-judge district court ordered a cartographer and special master it has appointed to submit three proposed maps. Special Master Richard Allen submitted three proposed maps Monday… In a report to the court on Monday, Special Master Richard Allen said his three proposed maps all create a second opportunity district for Black voters. That is in District 2, which would have a Black voting age population of close to 50% on all three plans. An analysis of 17 recent elections including with the report shows that the Black-preferred candidate would have won most of the time.”
The House Republican who will be likely out of a job, Jerry Carl, has been screaming like a stuck pig since Monday, fuming at “activist judges.” Not that a MAGAt like Jerry Carl cares about reality, but it is worth noticing that 2 of the 3 judges he’s raving about— Anna Manasco and Terry Moorer— are conservatives appointed by Trump. (The other one, U.S. Circuit Court Judge Stanley Marcus, was appointed to federal judgeships first by Reagan and then by Clinton.)
It was the Supreme Court that started all this by striking down— in a 5-4 ruling— the gerrymandered map last June. Conservatives Brett Kavanaugh and John Roberts voted with the three moderates (Ketanji Jackson, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan). The Republican controlled legislature then drew another map, almost as racist and that was the one the federal panel struck down.
Yesterday, Abbie VanSickle writing for the NY Times, reported that the new map will be in place <>in time for the 2024 election<>. She noted that the 3-judge panel overseeing the case had written that “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” and that the legislature’s proposal “plainly fails to do so.”
In asking the Supreme Court to intervene, Alabama’s attorney general, Steve Marshall, acknowledged that the Legislature had not added a second majority-Black district to its map as dictated by the federal court, but said its new map still complied with the law.
Unless the court acted, he wrote, “the state will have no meaningful opportunity to appeal before the 2023 plan is replaced by a court-drawn map that no state could constitutionally enact.”
In their brief, the plaintiffs, including a group of Black voters and advocacy organizations, urged the justices to reject Alabama’s request for relief and said the state had “unabashedly” sought to defy the courts using “recycled arguments.”
After the Supreme Court’s decision in June, the plaintiffs wrote, Alabama’s Legislature had drawn its plan in secret, with no opportunity for public comment, and had enacted it “over alternative plans that were supported by Black Alabamians.”
“Disagreement with this court’s ruling is not a valid reason to defy it— and certainly not a basis for a grant of an emergency stay application,” they wrote.
Currently Jerry Carl’s AL-01 has an R+17 PVI and AL-02 (MAGAt Barry Moore’s district) has an R+16. Moore is a member of the House Freedom Caucus. Those two will have to fight it out for the new AL-01 which has much of both of their former districts, while neither would have a realistic shot to win the new AL-02, which will lean blue (50% Black). Last cycle a Democrat didn’t even challenge Carl and Moore beat Democrat Phyllis Harvey-Hall 137,460 (69.1%) to 58,014 (29.2%). The leading candidate for the new AL-02, so far, is Austin Vigue, a Democratic activist from Wetumpka, but with one of those new maps about to become official, I’m pretty sure other, more establishment, candidates will jump in as well.
Last year Jerry Carl was already thinking about what it would be like to run against Moore with the whites from Moore's 5 Wiregrass counties in his district. “We were surprised, needless to say. Today, we are changing our strategy, our campaign strategy. We’re actually moving around, getting some stuff realigned just in case our lines do get redrawn, and we have to run against probably Barry Moore. You know, Barry and I are very close friends, but it is what it is if we have to run against one another.”