An unexpected Supreme Court judgment this week that Alabama likely diminished the power of African American voters may have a major influence on other states and increase the number of Democratic House members.
The Supreme Court rejected Alabama’s claim that the Voting Rights Act allowed “race blind” congressional districting in a 5-4 ruling Thursday. Even though African Americans make up over 25% of the state’s population, one district has a majority of Black voters.
The court’s judgment may influence Louisiana and Georgia redistricting challenges. Experts believe the judgment might affect cases in South Carolina, Texas, and other places where race, politics, and redistricting have been contentious for decades.
Why it matters: Supreme Court ruling repercussions
- The Alabama case goes to a lower federal court, and state officials have promised to defend the map, although the Supreme Court’s ruling destroyed many of the state’s claims. Experts expect the state will draw a second majority-African American district.
- This week, Cook Political Report senior editor David Wasserman said the decision might “send shockwaves beyond Alabama” and “shake up the 2024 battle for the House.” Wasserman expects the revisions to create two to four Democratic-friendly House districts.
Voting Rights Act Supreme Court ruling
Alabama claimed its seven districts were race-neutral. A lower court ordered the maps to be altered because that strategy weakened Black voters’ authority. The Supreme Court delayed its judgement last year due to primary elections.
Alabama’s claim that mapmakers must be “entirely ‘blind’ to race has no footing in our” prior rulings, Chief Justice John Roberts said Thursday. Instead, nations should consider race but not prioritize it. “The line that we have drawn is between consciousness and predominance,” Roberts stated.
The 1965 Voting Rights Act was tested in Allen v. Milligan. The Supreme Court has undermined that seminal statute in recent rulings at a time when voting has become increasingly polarized.
According to Legal Defense Fund senior counsel Deuel Ross, the court’s decision “will have the reassurance that the existing minority opportunity districts will continue to exist and that, where necessary and proper, new opportunity districts can and must be drawn.”
The Supreme Court halted a Louisiana order authorizing a second majority-Black district while hearing the Alabama case. That may be lifted. Last year, a federal court found that several Georgia U.S. House and state legislative districts likely violated the Voting Rights Act, but he permitted them to be used in the 2022 elections because it was too near to the election to redraw them.
2024 elections may require redrawing maps in all three states.