On Tuesday, the U.S. District Court ruled that the Alabama state legislature’s congressional maps, drawn in 2016, are unconstitutional and must be redrawn in order to provide fairer representation to minority voters. The ruling could result in Democrats gaining one or two seats in Congress in Alabama. The court ruled that the Republicans who controlled the drawing of the lines in 2016 intentionally drew the lines to give the GOP an advantage and reduce the influence of Black and Latino voters. The ruling requires the GOP-controlled legislature to redraw the maps before the 2022 elections. The court called the existing maps a “crystalline example of intentional discrimination,” noting that it “diluted minority voting power to a degree defying and deriding constitutional appear.” If the legislature fails to draw new lines before 2022, the court will hire an outside consultant to create new maps.
The ruling could have a profound impact on the makeup of the U.S. House of Representatives, shifting the balance of power away from the Republican Party. Alabama is currently one of the reddest states in the country, with seven Republicans and one Democrat in the House. But with fairer lines it is possible the state could end up with 6 Republicans and 2 Democrats in Congress, a shift which would give Democrats an advantage over the GOP.
The court ruling could still be overturned by the Supreme Court, though it is unlikely that the justices will take up the case. If the ruling stands, it could be a major victory for civil rights activists and for Democrats looking to expand their power in Congress.