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Amicus Brief

Merrill v. Milligan

Case Number


As a lawsuit challenging Alabama’s congressional district map went before the U.S. Supreme Court, the Southern Poverty Law Center and its partners submitted an amicus brief urging the court to affirm a lower court decision that found the map deprived Black Alabamians of their right to elect candidates of their choice to Congress.

The amicus brief filed in support of the plaintiffs in Merrill v. Milligan describes how the Alabama Legislature’s discriminatory plan splits, or “cracks,” Black residents among four districts, diluting their political power. What’s more, over the past 100 years, the Legislature has drawn 10 congressional district maps, but has never drawn a majority-Black district except when forced by a federal court.

When a lower court heard Merrill v. Milligan, it found that Black voters as a group could constitute a majority in a second congressional district. The amicus brief urges the Supreme Court to affirm the decision of a three-judge panel that the state’s map violates Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.

It also details that residents of the state’s Black Belt region share interests with residents in the city of Mobile and other parts of Mobile County across a range of issues, including health care access, educational opportunity and anti-hunger and other anti-poverty programs.

The socioeconomic characteristics of the areas are also remarkably similar. However, the Alabama Legislature prioritized keeping together white residents in Mobile and Baldwin counties at the expense of Black communities. The Legislature took this approach despite weak evidence that residents of the two counties share common interests.

On June 8, 2023, the Supreme Court ruled that Alabama’s congressional map denies Black voters a fair number of congressional seats. Alabama must draw a new map with two majority-Black congressional districts.

Other groups that filed the amicus brief with the SPLC include the League of Women Voters of the United States, the League of Women Voters of Alabama, Schulte Roth & Zabel LLP and Stand-Up Mobile.