Supreme Court barely rules racial gerrymandering violates voting rights

In a 5-4 decision, the US Supreme Court ruled that Alabama violated the Voting Rights Act by creating congressional districts that discriminate against Black voters. The decision, which comes as a surprise to court watchers, saw Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh join the court's three liberal-leaning justices in upholding the part of the law that forbids racial gerrymandering. The ruling agreed with the findings of a lower federal court that "Alabama's extensive history of repugnant racial and voting-related discrimination is undeniable and well documented" and "Black Alabamians enjoy virtually zero success in statewide elections." As a result of the ruling, Republican-led legislatures in Alabama and Louisiana will have to redraw maps to increase Black representation. The case stemmed from challenges to Alabama's seven-district congressional map, which included one district in which Black voters form a large enough majority that they have the power to elect their preferred candidate. The challengers argued that one district was not enough, pointing out that overall, Alabama's population is more than 25% Black. The judges found that Alabama concentrated Black voters in one district, while spreading them out among the others to make it much more difficult to elect more than one candidate of their choice. Alabama's Black population is large enough and geographically compact enough to create a second district, the judges found. The other four conservative justices dissented Thursday, with Justice Clarence Thomas writing that the decision forces "Alabama to intentionally redraw its longstanding congressional districts so that black voters can control a number of seats roughly proportional to the black share of the State's population."


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