The Supreme Court recently issued a 5-4 ruling that Alabama’s electoral map for congressional elections must be redrawn in order to comply with the provisions of the federal Voting Rights Act (VRA).
This ruling was met with criticism from four justices who were appointed by Republicans, including Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Most notably, however, was the dissent of Justice Clarence Thomas.
Thomas argued that the Majority Ruling that a section of the 1965 Voting Rights Act which bans gerrymandering based on race is “nothing more than a racial entitlement to roughly proportional control of elective offices—limited only by feasibility—wherever different racial groups consistently prefer different candidates.”
He further stated that it does not require Alabama to intentionally redraw its longstanding congressional districts so that black voters can control a number of seats proportionate to their share of population. In his opinion, Thomas felt that this issue should not even have been considered by the Federal Judiciary because he would have resolved these cases differently.
The majority opinion written by Roberts disagreed with Alabama lawyers’ position on Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, noting there are concerns about Section 2 which may inappropriately raise race as a factor in allocating political power within states.
He also wrote about how racial gerrymandering could lead us further away from our goal of having race no longer matter when it comes to politics. To support this argument, Kavanaugh wrote about how an existing case helped determine that Alabama’s arguments were incorrect due to its effects test requiring courts to account for race in order to prevent minority votes from being unequal compared to nonminority votes.
Lead plaintiff Evan Milligan celebrated this ruling as a victory for “democracy” and African-Americans because everyone now has their voice heard thanks to their vote being taken into consideration.
John Wahl, chairman for the state’s Republican Party also acknowledged this ruling and said they will comply despite disagreeing with it while Steve Marshall, attorney general for Alabama noted they still plan on defending their original map during trial proceedings at a later date.
According to the Epoch Times:
Evan Milligan, a black voter and the lead plaintiff in the case, said the ruling was a victory for “democracy” and African-Americans. “We are grateful that the Supreme Court upheld what we knew to be true: that everyone deserves to have their vote matter and their voice heard. Today is a win for democracy and freedom not just in Alabama but across the United States,” Milligan said in a statement.
Alabama Republican Party Chairman John Wahl wrote in a statement that state lawmakers would comply with the ruling. “Regardless of our disagreement with the Court’s decision, we are confident the Alabama Legislature will redraw district lines that ensure the people of Alabama are represented by members who share their beliefs, while following the requirements of applicable law,” Wahl said.
Steve Marshall, the state’s attorney general, said he expects to continue defending the challenged map in federal court, including at a full trial. “Although the majority’s decision is disappointing, this case is not over,” Marshall said in a statement.
Separately, the Supreme Court in the fall will hear South Carolina’s appeal of a lower-court ruling that found Republican lawmakers allegedly stripped black voters from a district to make it safer for a Republican candidate. That case also could lead to a redrawn map in South Carolina, where six U.S. House members are Republicans and one is a Democrat.