Democrats and the media have dismissed the chances of a new congressional map passed by Republican state legislators succeeding in an upcoming hearing in federal court.

However, Ilya Shapiro, director of constitutional studies at the Manhattan Institute, said in an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal on Monday, "[C]hallengers to Alabama's new map are asking a federal district court to defy the justices by ordering racially proportionate redistricting, which the Supreme Court rejected."

"The plaintiffs in Allen convinced the justices that their challenge to Alabama's previous map was likely to succeed because they produced an alternative map that the court found to match that map on traditional principles while increasing black representation. When the state argued that the alternative map broke up the Gulf Coast region, the plaintiffs responded that they instead kept together a different community, known as the Black Belt. The 'heart of their case' was that the Legislature's original map discriminated by prioritizing majority-white Gulf counties while breaking up the majority-black counties in the Black Belt. The Supreme Court accepted that argument, finding that because both maps were equivalent on traditional principles, the challengers had met their burden in raising Section 2 suspicions," Shapiro wrote. "The Legislature went back to the drawing board with that guidance. Its new map answers the plaintiffs' call to unite the Black Belt but also keeps the Gulf region together. It is thus superior to both of the dueling maps the Supreme Court considered, each of which broke up one community of interest. By respecting neutral principles, the new map produces districts that are fairer, more sensible and more competitive than they've been in decades. That satisfies both the Voting Rights Act and Constitution, even if it doesn't satisfy Democrats."

Shapiro continued, "The challengers' only retort, amplified by media commentary, is to demand racial spoils in redistricting." 

"Unlike in 2021, and despite the Supreme Court's guidance, they no longer try to show that there are alternatives to the 2023 map that match it on traditional principles while creating an additional majority-minority district. Instead, they demand precisely what the court made clear Section 2 'never requires '—' adoption of districts that violate redistricting principles,'" Shapiro added.

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

Under the new map, the seventh congressional district would have a 51% black voting-age population. The second congressional district would lose Autauga County, Conecuh County and parts of Elmore and Covington Counties while adding Lowndes, Macon and Russell Counties. The black voting-age population in the district would increase from 32% to approximately 40%.

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 Supreme Court affirmed the judges' opinion on appeal by the State of Alabama in June.

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