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Federal court blocks Alabama’s new congressional map

<i>Mickey Welsh/AP</i><br/>A federal court blocked Alabama's newly drawn congressional map
AP
Mickey Welsh/AP
A federal court blocked Alabama's newly drawn congressional map

By Ethan Cohen

A federal court blocked Alabama’s newly drawn congressional map on Monday, ruling that it likely violates Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act because it only includes one district where Black voters have the opportunity to elect a candidate of their choice.

The order gives the legislature 14 days to draw a new map that includes “two districts in which Black voters either comprise a voting-age majority or something quite close to it.”

The court also delayed the state’s ballot qualification deadline from January 28 to February 11. That delay only applies to congressional candidates.

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall said in court filings Tuesday that he was appealing that decision and another from a three-judge panel on Monday ordering the state to redraw its congressional map. The decision issued by the three-judge panel is being appealed directly to the Supreme Court while the other case, which was before US District Judge Anna M. Manasco, is being appealed to the 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals.

If the map is redrawn as a result of Monday’s decisions, it will likely lead to Democrats gaining a seat in the House from Alabama this November.

“This decision is a win for Alabama’s black voters, who have been denied equal representation for far too long,” former US Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement Monday evening released by the National Redistricting Foundation, which it said had supported the plaintiffs in the case before the district judge.

“The court’s decision reminds us that the moral arc of the universe does indeed bend toward justice — but only when enough people join together and pull it toward justice,” Holder added.

This is the second congressional map blocked by judges during this round of redistricting. The Ohio Supreme Court ruled earlier this month that that state’s new map was a partisan gerrymander that violated the state constitution.

This story has been updated Wednesday.

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Tierney Sneed contributed to this report.

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