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Chestnut v. Merrill

A group of Alabama residents filed a lawsuit contending that Alabama’s congressional map violates Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.

Last Updated: March 19, 2020
Published: April 16, 2019

Note: The Brennan Center is not a participant in this case.

Case Background

Eight Alabama voters filed a federal lawsuit alleging that Alabama’s 2011 congressional map violates Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA). The plaintiffs argue the map packs African-American voters into the Seventh Congressional District and significantly cracks African-American voters between three other congressional districts, with the effect of diluting African-American voting. The suit alleges that the African-American population in the three “cracked” congressional districts is sufficient to form a second majority-minority district.

The plaintiffs are asking the court to declare the map violates Section 2 of the VRA and enjoin the state from using the current map in any further congressional elections. The plaintiffs are also asking the court to require that the state adopt a new congressional plan that includes a second majority-minority district.

On March 27, 2019, the court ruled that the plaintiffs would no longer be able to seek to enjoin the current map or to have a new map adopted. The plaintiffs will still be able to seek a declaration that the map violates Section 2 of the VRA. 

Trial took place from November 4 to 8, 2019.

On March 17, 2020, the court declared the case moot and dismissed the case without prejudice for lack of jurisdiction.


District Court