Supreme Court Strikes Down Alabama Congressional Map

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The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 against Alabama Thursday in a case considering whether its congressional district map diluted the influence of black voters.

The majority upheld a lower court decision that found the map violated the Voting Rights Act, requiring the Republican-drawn congressional map to be redrawn. Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the majority opinion, which was joined by Justices Brett Kavanaugh and the three liberal justices.

“The concern that [the Voting Rights Act] may impermissibly elevate race in the allocation of political power within the States is, of course, not new,” Roberts wrote. “Our opinion today does not diminish or disregard these concerns. It simply holds that a faithful application of our precedents and a fair reading of the record before us do not bear them out here.”

Alabama’s Republican-controlled legislauture approved the new district map in 2021, which included only one majority black district out of the seven. Those who challenged the maps, including the Alabama State Conference of the NAACP, contend there should be a second majority-black district.

Justices Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Amy Coney Barrett, and Samuel Alito dissented from the majority opinoin.

Thomas wrote that the case represents “yet another installment in the ‘disastrous misadventure’ of this Court’s voting rights jurisprudence.”

“The question presented is whether [Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act], as amended, requires the State of Alabama to intentionally redraw its longstanding congressional districts so that black voters can control a number of seats roughly proportional to the black share of the State’s population,” he wrote. “Section 2 demands no such thing.”

Attorney General Merrick B. Garland celebrated the decision in a statement Thursday.

“Today’s decision rejects efforts to further erode fundamental voting rights protections, and preserves the principle that in the United States, all eligible voters must be able to exercise their constitutional right to vote free from discrimination based on their race,” he said. “The right to vote is the cornerstone of our democracy, the right from which all other rights ultimately flow.”

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