Three federal judges denied a late intervention by the Alabama Democratic Conference (ADC) in the redistricting lawsuit against Alabama's congressional map on Tuesday.

ADC chairman Dr. Joe Reed introduced a congressional map proposal in a reapportionment public hearing in July that created two majority-minority congressional districts. Republicans passed a different map last week that kept one majority-minority district and one with a 40% black voting-age population.

A three-judge panel in federal district court in January 2022 found Alabama's congressional map passed in 2021 likely unconstitutional and said a "remedial plan will need to include two districts in which Black voters either comprise a voting-age majority or something quite close to it." The U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the judges' opinion on appeal by the State of Alabama in June.

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit that went to the Supreme Court were represented by left-wing groups such as the ACLU and NAACP. State Sen. Bobby Singleton (D-Greensboro) is a plaintiff in a separate lawsuit against the State of Alabama over its congressional map. However, the Court has consolidated the two lawsuits together.

The ADC filed a motion to intervene in the lawsuit on July 10 that was denied by U.S. District Judge Terry Moorer, U.S. District Judge Anna Manasco and United States Circuit Judge Stanley Marcus on Tuesday. 

"Because the ADC has been exceedingly untimely, its interests are the same as the interests of the party plaintiffs, and its intervention now would cause substantial disruption, delay, and prejudice at this critical juncture in the case, the ADC's request for permissive intervention fails," Moorer, Manaso, and Marcus said in their ruling. "Under these precedents, the ADC's lengthy delay in seeking to intervene precludes a finding of timeliness. The preliminary injunction proceedings involved more than forty lawyers, seven days of hearings, and a voluminous record, including testimony from multiple expert witnesses. Although the ADC's interests could have been affected during that stage of these proceedings, the ADC did not then seek to intervene. This litigation is now nearly two years old and is in a critical, time sensitive stage. The Court faces extreme time pressure to hold a hearing and issue an appropriate order before the 2024 election deadlines. Secretary Allen has informed the Court that a congressional map must be in place by early October 2023 to be used in the 2024 elections."

The judges continued by saying, "the ADC further downplays its delay and asserts that it did not understand until recently "that the Legislature is unlikely to develop a new map that is consistent with federal law," but that cannot be right: there has always been a possibility that if the plaintiffs prevailed in this litigation, the Court would be required to impose the remedy should the Legislature fail to do so."

"In any event, even if the ADC were to suffer any prejudice from denial of its motion, that prejudice would be temporary because later process will cure it. Since the ADC filed its motion, the Legislature has enacted a new congressional redistricting plan. If that map is successfully challenged and circumstances call for the special master to prepare a map, the ADC and other interested parties will have an opportunity to submit proposed maps to the special master," Moorer, Manasco and Marcus said.

Mark Sabel, an attorney for ADC, said in a motion to intervene on July 10, "[N]one of the existing plaintiffs has yet proposed a remedial plan that is favored by the ADC. The Singleton plaintiffs have even proposed a remedial plan that results in zero majority-Black districts."

Some have speculated Reed's son, Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed, would be interested in running as a Democrat in the second congressional district depending on the final version of the congressional map.

A federal court hearing with a three-judge panel to decide whether the map passed by Republicans last week will stand for the 2024 election is set for August 14 at the Hugo L. Black Federal Courthouse in Birmingham.

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