Supreme Court Backs GOP Redistricting

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On Monday, the Supreme Court affirmed a Republican-led legislature’s gerrymandering map in Alabama. This happened after an appeals court panel rejected it, due to apparent breaches of the Voting Rights Act.

By a five to four decision (with Chief Justice John Roberts supporting the court’s three-member liberal group in dissent), the justices reversed the lower court’s judgment, keeping the altered map that opponents claimed dilutes black votes.


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Thorough Examination

Justice Brett Kavanaugh, one among five Republican-appointed judges who voted to maintain the GOP-favored map, said the court’s hold would allow justices to conduct a thorough examination of the issue.

Kavanaugh also rebutted dissenters who believe the map destroys voting rights without a full briefing from all sides. This is a concern emphasized by Justice Elena Kagan, who termed the decision “a damage to our appellate procedures.”

“It is a travesty to the District Court, which followed this court’s long-standing voting rights doctrine with painstaking precision,” Kagan said.

“Most importantly, it is a disservice to black Alabamans, who have seen their political power weakened as a result of that precedent – in violation of a statute this court once recognized as a bulwark of American democracy.”

Alabama petitioned the Supreme Court directly last month, in an attempt to defend the revised map and avert the possibility of Democrats capturing a second seat in the country.

Alabama’s House delegation currently comprises six Republicans and one Democrat.


Voting Rights Act

Last month, a three-judge panel in the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, which contains two judges selected by Trump, directed lawmakers to design a map with “selected regions in which black voters are either a voting-age majority or very near to it.”

Alabama has a black population of around 27%, which equates to two seats, approximately 29 percent of the total in the seven-member delegation.

The 11th Circuit panel decided on Jan. 25 the first plan likely violated Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act by providing only one district that allowed black voters to elect their preferred candidate.

A few days later, Republican Secretary of State John Merrill petitioned the Supreme Court to maintain the map.

Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act makes it unlawful to deny members of a racial minority the same chance to elect preferred representatives. States usually interpret this as mandating legislators to establish districts with a majority of non-white voters.

In November, civil rights organizations filed lawsuits challenging the Republican-drawn map. They claimed lawmakers utilized gerrymandering methods like “cracking” and “packing,” which effectively establish voting districts for party benefit.

Additionally, opponents of the GOP-drawn map presented four alternative variations with two majority-black seats, demonstrating a variety of ways to comply with the 11th Circuit’s mandate.

In 2019, the Supreme Court declared partisan gerrymandering to be a political problem beyond the jurisdiction of federal courts. However, the Rucho v. Common Cause vacated the chamber to hear racial gerrymandering instances.