Supreme Court upholds Republican-drawn Alabama redistricting map

The U.S. Supreme Court voted to uphold a redistricting map in Alabama, despite accusations from liberals that it dilutes the voting power of Blacks.

In a 5–4 decision, the court stayed a lower court decision that ordered Alabama to create another Black-majority district before the 2022 elections, the Washington Examiner reported.

SCOTUS upholds map

Critics of the new Republican-drawn map complain that it does not fairly represent Black voters, who make up about 27% of the state’s population, and that it is illegal under the Voting Rights Act.

While the case law on “vote dilution” is hazy, the 1986 Thornburg v. Gingles decision holds that minority groups that are large and compact enough to form a majority-minority district must be represented in one if white-majority voters are cohesive enough to defeat their preferred candidate.

Of Alabama’s seven districts, the map has one in which Blacks are the majority. Citing the VRA, a three-judge panel ordered the state to re-draw its map so that two of its seven districts would be majority-minority.

Alabama went to the Supreme Court last month asking for a stay. The stay was granted by the court’s conservatives, with the exception of John Roberts.

“Chaos and confusion”

In an opinion, Brett Kavanaugh said that more time is needed to assess the merits of the case, but he did note that forcing Alabama to draw up a new map just seven weeks before the start of primary elections on March 30 could create “chaos and confusion” for voters and candidates.

“When an election is close at hand, the rules of the road must be clear and settled,” he wrote.

“Late judicial tinkering with election laws can lead to disruption and to unanticipated and unfair consequences for candidates, political parties, and voters, among others.”

Liberal justices fuming

Even Justice Roberts conceded that there is “considerable disagreement and uncertainty” surrounding the elaborate legal criteria for proving a vote dilution claim under the VRA.

Still, the court’s liberals, led by Justice Elena Kagan, did not withhold their view that the court’s decision would be catastrophic for “voting rights.” The decision “does a disservice to Black Alabamians,” Kagan wrote, in “violation of a law this Court once knew to buttress all of American democracy.”

The Supreme Court was similarly divided in July, when the court held that Arizona election integrity laws did not violate the VRA.

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