|2010-cycle districts:||Congress « NEW|
|2000-cycle districts:||Congress, State Senate, State House|
|Primary governing law:||Ala. Const. art. IX, §§ 198, 199, 200
Congress: On June 2, the legislature passed SB 484, which was signed by the Governor on June 8, 2011, and precleared on November 21.
State leg.: On May 24, the state legislature passed HB 19 (state House districts) and SB 25 (state Senate districts), which were signed on May 31 and precleared on October 5, 2012. Both were challenged in court; on March 25, 2015, the Supreme Court sent the case back to a federal trial court to review racial gerrymandering claims.
Redistricting political control:
Governor State Senate State House Congressional lines R 12 D, 22 R, 1 O 39 D, 66 R State legislative lines R 12 D, 22 R, 1 O 39 D, 66 R 2000 cong. lines D 24 D, 11 R 67 D, 38 R 2000 state lines D 24 D, 11 R 67 D, 38 R
Alabama's congressional and state legislative lines are drawn by the legislature, as a regular statute, subject to gubernatorial veto.
The members of the legislative committee with responsibility for redistricting are here.
In the 2000 cycle, the legislature channeled all state court challenges to congressional and state legislative lines through the circuit court of Montgomery County; the legislature may alter this practice by statute. [Ala. Code § 29-1-2.5]
Census data were delivered to Alabama on February 24, 2011.
Alabama state law does not impose a particular deadline for drawing congressional lines, though candidates must file for congressional primary elections by April 6, 2012. [Ala. Code § 17-13-5]
State legislative lines must be drawn in the first legislative session after the federal Census is conducted; that session begins on March 1, 2011, and ended June 4, 2011, though in 2000, state districts were drawn in special session. [Ala. Const. art. IX, § 199] Candidates must file for state legislative primary elections by April 6, 2012. [Ala. Code § 17-13-5]
Alabama prohibits redrawing state legislative district lines mid-decade, before the next Census, but has no similarly explicit prohibition on redrawing congressional lines. [Ala. Const. art. IX, §§ 198, 200]
- Public input
Citizens will be allowed to submit their own redistricting plans, using ESRI redistricting software, but the redistricting committee has not yet announced any specific public use guidelines, or how the state will review and process citizen-submitted plans.
The legislative committee responsible for redistricting conducted public hearings. Transcripts of those hearings can be found here.
Like all states, Alabama must comply with constitutional equal population requirements, and further requires that its state Senate districts be "as nearly equal as may be." [Ala. Const. art. IX, § 200]
Alabama must also, like all states, abide by section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. Alabama is further considered a "covered state" under section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, with the obligation to submit redistricting plans to the Department of Justice or to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, to ensure that the plans do not discriminate against minority communities.
For its congressional lines, Alabama's legislative redistricting committee adopted guidelines in 2000 asking that districts be contiguous, reasonably compact, follow county lines where possible, and maintain communities of interest to the extent feasible; the committee further determined that it would attempt to avoid contests between incumbents. The legislature may alter these guidelines as it wishes.
The above guidelines mirror constraints for Alabama's state legislative lines. The state constitution requires that districts be contiguous, and that state Senate districts follow county lines except where necessary to comply with other legal requirements. The legislative committee further adopted guidelines indicating that districts would be reasonably compact, maintain communities of interest to the extent feasible, and avoid contests between incumbents. The legislature may alter these latter guidelines as it wishes. [Ala. Const. art. IX, § 200; Reapportionment Committee Guidelines]
- 2010 cycle cases
Alabama v. Holder, No. 1:11-CV-01628 (D.D.C.): an action in federal court requesting preclearance of Alabama's congressional districts.
- Complaint (Sept. 9, 2011).
The latest: After the plan was precleared on November 21, plaintiffs dismissed the complaint.
Alabama v. Holder II, No. 1:12-cv-01232 (D.D.C.): an action in federal court requesting preclearance of Alabama's state legislative districts.
- Complaint (July 26, 2012).
- Notice of dismissal (Oct. 5, 2012).
The latest: After the districts were precleared on October 5, plaintiffs dismissed the complaint.
Sexton v. Bentley, No. CV-2012-00503 (Ala. Circuit Ct., Montgomery County): an action in state court challenging the legislature's authority to draw state districts after the end of the regular legislative session.
- Complaint (May 17, 2012).
- Motion for temporary restraining order (May 17), response (May 18).
- Order denying temporary restraining order (May 18).
- Motion to dismiss (May 18).
- 2d motion to dismiss by legislators, governor (June 11).
- Notice of dismissal (Aug. 15).
The latest: On August 15, 2012, the case was voluntarily dismissed.
Ala. Legis. Black Caucus v. Alabama, No. 2:12-cv-00691 (M.D. Ala.), No. 13-395, No. 13-895 & No. 13-1138 (S. Ct.): an action in federal court challenging the state legislative lines as allegedly violating the Voting Rights Act and the federal constitution.
- Trial court
- Complaint (Aug. 10, 2012) and amended complaint (Jan. 15, 2013).
- Mot. to dismiss (Aug. 31, 2012), opp. (Sept. 4), reply (Sept. 11), surreply (Sept. 13).
- Order denying motion as moot (Oct. 10).
- Order staying case (Sept. 21), order lifting stay (Oct. 10).
- Def. motion for judg. on pleadings (Oct. 26), resp. (Nov. 14), reply (Nov. 26).
- Order dismissing one count, preserving another (Dec. 26).
- Plts. motion for perm. injunction (Apr. 17, 2013), resp. (Apr. 24), reply (May 6).
- Order denying permanent injunction (July 30).
- Order approving class certification (Mar. 28).
- Order re briefing ripeness and standing, concurrence (June 28).
- Brief by plaintiffs, defendants (July 9).
- Order dismissing relevant claims (July 30).
- U.S. Supreme Court
- Notice of appeal (Aug. 12).
- Jurisdictional statement (Sept. 25).
- State's motion to dismiss or affirm (Oct. 25), opposition (Nov. 12).
- Order dismissing appeal for want of jurisdiction (Dec. 2).
- Trial court II
- Motions for summary judgment by:
- ALBC plts. (partial) (Aug. 27, 2012), opp. (Oct. 26), reply (Nov. 2).
- ALBC plts. (partial) (brief) (Feb. 6, 2013), resp. (Feb. 28), reply (Mar. 4).
- Opinion denying motion for summary judgment, concurrence (Apr. 5).
- Defendants (partial) (Apr. 4), response (Apr. 17), reply (Apr. 24).
- Defendants (ALBC plaintiffs) (June 17), response (July 10), reply (July 17).
- Defendants (Newton plaintiffs) (June 17), response (July 10), reply (July 17).
- Opinion granting some motions, denying others, partial concur (Aug. 2).
- Pretrial joint stipulation of facts (Aug. 2).
- Proposed post-trial findings by ALBC plts., Newton plts., State (Aug. 21).
- Suggestion of death (Sept. 18), response (Sept. 25).
- Opinion rejecting challenges and finding for state (and dissent) (Dec. 20).
- U.S. Supreme Court
- Notice of appeal (Jan. 6, 2014).
- Jurisdictional statement of AL Leg. Black Caucus (app. 1, 2) (Jan. 23).
- Joint motion to dismiss or affirm (Apr. 21), reply (May 2).
- Jurisdictional statement of AL Dem. Conf. (Mar. 14).
- Joint motion to dismiss or affirm (Apr. 21), opposition (May 5).
- Order accepting jurisdiction, setting for argument (June 2).
- Brief for AL Dem. Conf., AL Leg. Black Caucus (Aug. 13).
- Amicus briefs by
ADL, Brennan Center, NAACP LDF, NC litigants (Aug. 20).
DOJ, Lawyers' Comm., Prof. Gaddie et al. (Aug. 20).
- Brief for State (Oct. 9).
- Amicus briefs by AL leg. leaders, Oldham, Pacific Legal Found. (Oct. 16).
- Replies for AL Dem. Conf. (Oct. 28), AL Leg. Black Caucus (Oct. 27).
- AL Leg. Black Caucus supp. brief re county delegations, standing (Jan. 30, 2015).
- Response (Feb. 26).
- Opinion vacating trial court opinion, remanding (Mar. 25). « NEW
The latest: On December 26, 2012, the court denied plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment, and granted defendants' motion for judgment on the pleadings with respect to an allegation of an equal population violation involving malapportionment of districts involving distinct local legislative delegations, but not with respect to racial gerrymandering claims. The court also dismissed a partisan gerrymandering claim, with leave for plaintiffs to amend in order to offer a justiciable standard; after plaintiffs did so, the court denied plaintiffs summary judgment on this claim on April 5, 2013, and granted defendants summary judgment on this claim on July 30. The decision with respect to the equal population violation was appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which dismissed the appeal on December 2 for lack of jurisdiction.
On June 17, the state defendants moved for summary judgment against all plaintiffs on all remaining counts; the court dismissed a claim based on the impact of redistricting on the composition of local delegations given difference on local bills, but denied summary judgment on the racial discrimination claims, sending the case to trial. On December 20, 2013, the court ruled for the state defendants, rejecting all remaining claims (including the racial gerrymandering challenge).
On March 25, 2015, the Supreme Court vacated the trial court opinion with respect to the racial gerrymandering claim, and remanded. The Court found that the trial court incorrectly analyzed whether race predominated in the drawing of particular districts, and that Alabama's mechanically demographic approach to race did not amount to legitimate compliance with the Voting Rights Act. (That analysis closely follows my own.) The trial court will now reassess plaintiffs' racial gerrymandering challenges; the Court's opinion strongly suggests that at least some of the challenged districts will be found to be unconstitutional.
- 2000 cycle
In the 2000 redistricting cycle, Alabama's legislature drew both congressional and state legislative lines, without a veto. State Senate and House plans were both enacted on July 3, 2001; House districts were precleared on November 5, 2001, and Senate districts were precleared on October 15, 2001. The congressional plan was passed on January 31, 2002, and precleared on March 4, 2002. The state legislative plan was challenged in state and federal court, and upheld in both. [Rice v. English, 835 So. 2d 157 (Ala. 2002); Montiel v. Davis, 215 F. Supp. 2d 1279 (S.D. Ala. 2002)]
Newton v. Alabama, No. 2:12-cv-01081 (M.D. Ala.): an action in federal court challenging the state legislative lines as allegedly violating the Voting Rights Act, and as unconstitutional racial gerrymanders.
- Complaint (Dec. 13, 2012).
The latest: On December 19, this case was consolidated with Ala. Legis. Black Caucus v. Alabama, above.