The Alabama Legislature will probably get another chance to draw the state’s House and Senate maps if a lower court rules against the current one, and special elections in at least a handful of districts are at least possible. But how many elections; when they will take place and what the final map will look like will largely depend on how the legal and political processes play out, following the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling Wednesday that reversed a lower court decision upholding the state’s 2012 redistricting plan. At least a handful of districts will likely need new boundaries. “It creates a domino effect, because you can’t change the boundaries of one district without changing boundaries of a another district,” said Michael Li, redistricting counsel for the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University, in a phone interview Thursday. “The normal pattern would be to give the Legislature the chance to fix it themselves.”
Republican lawmakers approved a reapportionment plan in 2012 that used a rigid criteria for maintaining minority populations in majority-minority districts. At the time, the framers of the maps said they were trying to meet requirements of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which prevented major reductions in minority voting populations in redistricting while trying to maintain population in black districts that had lost residents.
However, Michael McDonald, an associate professor of political science at the University of Florida and a redistricting expert, said other Southern states used similar approaches.
“Across the South, Republican state governments were adopting these more strict population deviations than what the Supreme Court articulated for these districts,” he said in a phone interview Thursday. “It just seemed like there was some strategy at play here.”
Full Article: Alabama redistricting case may take years to resolve.