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March 27, 2019

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Mike Lewis (334) 353-2199
Steve Marshall
Joy Patterson (334) 242-7491
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Alabama Attorney General

Attorney General Steve Marshall Announces Favorable Initial Ruling in Federal
Voting Rights Lawsuit Means Alabama Will Not Have to Draw New Congressional
District Map for 2020 Election

(MONTGOMERY) – Attorney General Steve Marshall announced Wednesday that a
federal judge’s favorable initial ruling in a voting rights lawsuit against the State of
Alabama’s congressional districting plan means there will be no change in Alabama’s
congressional district map for the upcoming 2020 U.S. House elections.

“I am pleased that U.S. District Judge Bowdre agreed with the Attorney General’s
argument that the plaintiffs in the voting rights lawsuit against the State of Alabama’s
congressional districting plan waited too long to file their legal challenge,” said
Attorney General Marshall. “Any attempt by the plaintiffs to alter Alabama’s
congressional map, should they ultimately prevail in their lawsuit, would not occur
until after the upcoming 2020 congressional elections. The bottom line is the upcoming
2020 congressional elections in Alabama will not be affected by the lawsuit as it
progresses in court.”

The plaintiffs in Chestnut v. Merrill, an action filed in the U.S. District Court for the
Northern District of Alabama, alleged that the Voting Rights Act requires Alabama to
draw a new congressional districting plan that includes two majority-black districts.
Plaintiffs argued that the litigation should be rushed so that the new districts could be
in place for the 2020 congressional elections. The Attorney General has questioned
whether two majority-black districts can be drawn in Alabama without splitting
important communities of interest or engaging in unconstitutional racial

The federal court’s order entered today addressed the Attorney General’s arguments
that the plaintiffs waited too long to file suit. The challenged districts have been in place
since 2011, but the plaintiffs waited until 2018 to file suit, after the challenged districts
had been used in four elections, and just two years before the next census, which will
require the Alabama Legislature to draw new districts. The district court agreed that
back-to-back redistricting would prejudice the State and that Alabama can use the
existing districts in the next election. The Plaintiffs’ remaining claim for a declaratory
judgment will go forward, but the district court ruled that the plaintiffs’ claim for
injunctive relief is barred.


501 Washington Avenue * Montgomery, AL 36104 * (334) 242-7300
www.ago.state.al.us Page 2 of 2

The lawsuit Chestnut v. Merrill is unrelated to a separate federal lawsuit filed by the
State of Alabama and Congressman Mo Brooks against the U.S. Department of
Commerce (Alabama v. U.S. Department of Commerce) over the U.S. Census inclusion of
illegal aliens in calculating the apportionment of congressional seats and state electoral
college votes. That lawsuit is also being heard in U.S. District Court for the Northern
District of Alabama.