MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WIAT) — After hearing arguments Monday, a panel of three federal judges is considering whether Alabama’s new congressional map can stand in the 2024 election or whether to appoint a special master to redraw the lines.

This stems from the Supreme Court’s June ruling in Allen v. Milligan. Majority of justices affirmed a lower court ruling that said a remedy map would include two majority-Black districts or something close to it.

They said the 2021 map likely violates Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act and dilutes the voting power of Black voters in the state, who make up more than 25% of the population but hold just one of seven congressional seats.

Republican lawmakers during a special session in July drew a map with just one majority-Black district.

Plaintiffs’ attorneys Monday argued the new map is as much a violation of the Voting Rights Act as the previous one.

They argued having just one majority Black district builds on a history of racial discrimination in the state and will continue a lack of electoral success from Black candidates.

State House Democrats held a press conference outside the courthouse saying they’re hopeful the judges will strike down the map.

“The state of Alabama is still defying this court as well as the Supreme Court ruling. What we want here today is fair maps that will represent Blacks in Alabama. That’s why we’re here today,” Rep. Barbara Drummond (D- Mobile) said.

The 2023 map lawmakers drew has a 51% Black voting age population in District 7 and 40% in District 2.

No Alabama Democrats voted for the plan.

“To say that 40%, 39.8% is enough for African Americans to elect their person of choice, that’s ridiculous,” House Minority Leader Anthony Daniels (D- Huntsville) said.

Attorneys for the state say the legislature would have had to put race above other traditional redistricting principles to create two majority-Black districts.

Solicitor General Edmund LaCour argued for the Secretary of State. He said doing so would have amounted to racial gerrymandering.

He told judges this new map keeps communities of interest together, especially in the Gulf and Wiregrass, and said that to prioritize race over other factors would have been unlawful.

Closing arguments ended about 2:40 p.m. Monday, so a ruling has not yet been issued.

During closing arguments, judges questioned LaCour, repeatedly asking whether Alabama lawmakers “deliberately disregarded” what the court asked for in drawing its map.

LaCour replied that the map is the best the state could create without violating other legal principles or racial gerrymandering.