Supreme Court Backs Black Alabama Residents In Redistricting Decision
In a surprise decision made on Thursday, the Supreme Court ruled that Alabama had weakened the power of the state’s black voters by drawing a congressional voting map in which a single black-majority district.
This decision is one in a long battle over congressional redistricting throughout the country. The case was sparked in 2020 when the Alabama legislature redrew the congressional map in light of that year’s census.
The Voting Rights Act held strong in the 5-4 majority decision, in which Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. was joined by Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh, Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Justice Elena Kagan and Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson.
The majority shared concerns that the law “may impermissibly elevate race in the allocation of political power within the states,” as the Chief Justice wrote.
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In his dissent, Justice Clarence Thomas stated that the decision has gone against the “consciously segregated districting system” that is in place today, arguing that the ruling is unconstitutional.
The state of Alabama has seven congressional districts, with 27% of its voting-age population being black. When the map was redrawn in 2020, there was only one district in which black voters were the majority. While this district has historically voted blue, the other six districts have always been represented by Republicans.
In 2021, the court repealed Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, which prohibits racial minorities from having “less opportunity than other members of the electorate to participate in the political process and to elect representatives of their choice.” The provision of this section minimized the capacity of minority groups to challenge voting rights and restrictions.
In 2022, the Supreme Court blocked a lower court ruling rejecting Alabama’s congressional map, ensuring that the 2022 election would be conducted with only a single district comprising a black majority.
Republican state officials in Alabama believe that the Constitution only allows for a limited consideration of race while drawing voting districts, while civil rights leaders argue that the redistricting process has continuously worked only to the benefit of white voters.
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