In June, the Supreme Court surprised everyone by upholding Sec. 2 of the Voting Rights Act in rejecting the Republican-controlled Alabama legislature's redistricting map and ordering that map redrawn to provide a second black-majority congressional district in the state.
Reports indicate that the Alabama legislature has now deliberately defied that ruling in order to get the case in front of the Supreme Court again with the hope that Justice Brett Kavanaugh can be swayed to change his prior position on the matter, according to AL.com
In the 5-4 ruling in June in the case of Allen v. Milligan, Justice Kavanaugh, who many observers had expected to side with the Alabama legislature, shocked everyone by instead joining with Chief Justice John Roberts and the court's three liberal jurists to rule against the Republican-led state and its redistricting map that contained only one black-majority congressional district, despite blacks representing more than a quarter of the state's population.
CNN reported exclusively this week that, according to unnamed sources, Justice Kavanaugh had indeed been initially prepared to side with the Supreme Court's other conservative jurists and form a majority in favor of Alabama's redistricting map but was convinced to vote otherwise by Chief Justice Roberts.
That was likely due to a reported deep and decades-long friendship between Roberts and Kavanaugh that dates back to when they both worked together in former President George H.W. Bush's administration and has only grown closer ever since.
Yet, reports indicate that Alabama Republicans believe that Kavanaugh, as the swing vote, can be convinced to switch sides once again if the proper arguments are put before him that weren't necessarily raised or fully explored in the prior case -- hence what appears to be their deliberate defiance of the court's decision with an aim of having the case reheard before the high court.
According to the Alabama Political Reporter in July, Republican legislators in the state purposefully redrew its district map to still only contain one black-majority district in defiance of the Supreme Court based on supposed "intelligence" from Washington D.C. connections that Justice Kavanaugh was ready and willing to rehear the merits of the case.
That is based in part on the belief that the high court never fully considered all of the merits of Alabama's arguments and instead was more narrowly focused on the issue of a stay that had been imposed by a lower court against the state's redistricting map from 2021 that had been challenged as being in violation of the Voting Rights Act for allegedly diluting the black vote by only giving black voters one of the state's seven congressional districts.
As for Kavanaugh, the Alabama Republicans have reportedly focused on what he wrote in a concurring opinion to Milligan which stated that "the authority to conduct race-based redistricting cannot extend indefinitely into the future," according to SCOTUSblog.
However, the swing justice added that since that particular argument had not been raised, he would "not consider it at this time" -- a statement that some have interpreted as an invitation to bring that particular argument before the court for its consideration.
That appears to be the current strategy of Alabama Republicans, per AL.com, who held a special legislative session in July to redraw its redistricting map but ended up with one that, while marginally improved from the prior version in terms of the racial makeup of certain districts, still only featured one black-majority district.
On Tuesday, a three-judge district court panel rejected the newly submitted map as likely still being in violation of the Voting Rights Act and ordered that it be redrawn once again, albeit this time by a special master and cartographer appointed by the court.
Given the reported strategy of Alabama Republicans, that ruling is precisely what they wanted as it sets up an opportunity to appeal the matter to the Supreme Court and get a second crack at convincing a majority of the justices to set racial considerations aside and accept what they have insisted are "race-neutral" redistricting maps.
At the center of that second go-round, presuming that the high court takes the case, will be Justice Kavanaugh, though it obviously remains unclear if he can be convinced to side with the state this time or will again be swayed by Chief Justice Roberts to make the racial demographics of individual congressional districts a priority.