The Supreme Court case has been closely watched for its potential to undermine the landmark suffrage law.
WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court Thursday made a surprising 5-4 ruling in favor of Black voters in a congressional redistricting case, ordering the creation of a second black majority.
Chief Justice John Roberts and Judge Brett Kavanaugh joined the court’s libertarians in asserting the lower court’s ruling that there was a potential violation of the Voting Rights Act in the United States. an Alabama congressional map with a Black majority among seven congressional districts in a state with more than a quarter of the population being Black.
The case has been closely watched for its potential to undermine the landmark suffrage law.
The court authorized the use of the challenged map for the 2022 election, and at the October debates, the judges appeared poised to make it more difficult to use the voting rights law. to challenge regional redistricting plans as racist.
The judge himself suggested last year that he was open to changing the way courts consider discrimination claims under a part of the law known as section 2. But on Thursday, Roberts wrote that the court refused “to rewrite our part 2 case precedent at Alabama’s request.”
Roberts was part of a conservative high court majority in previous cases that made it difficult for racial minorities to use the Voting Rights Act of 1965 in ideologically divided rulings in the United States. two thousand and thirteen And 2021.
Four other conservative judges disagreed on Thursday. Justice Clarence Thomas wrote that the decision forced “Alabama to intentionally redraw its longstanding congressional districts so that black voters could control a number of seats roughly proportional to the percentage of blacks in the population.” the population of the State. Section 2 does not require that, and if it did, the Constitution would not allow it.”
The current case stems from challenges to Alabama’s seven-county congressional map, which includes a county where Black voters have a large enough majority to give them the right to elect their preferred candidate. Challengers say one county is not enough, pointing out that overall, Alabama’s population is more than 25% Black.
A court of three judges, with two appointed by former President Donald Trump, had difficulty concluding that the scheme may have violated the Voting Rights Act by diluting votes. elected by the Black Alabamians. The council asked to draw a new map.
But the state quickly appealed to the Supreme Court, where five conservative judges blocked the lower court’s ruling. They allowed last year’s parliamentary elections to proceed according to a map that lower courts said could be illegal.
At the same time, the court decided to hear the Alabama case and the arguments were held in early October.
Partisan politics underpin the case. Republicans who prevailed in Alabama’s electorate opposed the creation of a second district with a Democratic-leaning Black majority, or close to one, that could bring in a Democrat. another in Parliament.
The judges found that Alabama concentrated Black voters in one county, while scattering them in other counties, making it impossible for them to elect the candidate of their choice.
The judges found Alabama’s Black population large and geographically small enough to create a second county.
Alabama argued that the lower court’s ruling would force it to categorize voters by race, and the state asserts that it is taking a “racially neutral” approach to redistricting.
At the October debates, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson scoffed at the idea that race couldn’t be part of the equation. Jackson, the court’s first Black woman, said that constitutional amendments passed after the Civil War and the Voting Rights Act a century later were intended to do the same, making black Americans “equal to white citizens”.
Jackson and two other libertarians on the court, Judges Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, said a decision like the one issued Thursday would result in fewer counties being drawn to create room opportunity for racial minorities to elect the candidates of their choice.