Supreme Court Requests Redistricting Based On Race

( – A close 5-4 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court on June 8th will require Alabama to redraw its Congressional maps to avoid disenfranchising black voters.

The ruling upheld another ruling from a lower court that found Alabama is in violation of the Voting Rights Act. The high court said it was unacceptable for the state to have only one black-majority district out of seven total districts in a region where more than 25 percent of residents are black.

Since Congressional districting affects the outcome of elections, when Alabama redraws its districts before the next election it may affect the political balance in the U.S. House of Representatives. Though racial minorities have been moving toward Republican candidates in higher-than-expected numbers, black voters overall are more likely to elect Democratic candidates.

The ruling surprised observers, and not just because of what it said. Chief Justice John Roberts and Brett Kavanaugh, both conservatives, sided with liberals in the decision. Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, and Ketanji Brown Jackson concurred with the majority opinion.

Still, the ruling itself surprised many court watchers, as the Supreme Court had allowed Alabama’s current Congressional districts—the ones that must be redrawn before next year—to stand for the 2022 midterm elections. Chief Justice Roberts has in the past joined conservative decisions that made challenges under the Voting Rights Act harder to win.

The court’s other four conservative justices—Amy Coney Barett, Neil Gorsuch, Samuel Alito, and Clarence Thomas—dissented from the majority opinion. In his dissent, Thomas wrote that the law does not require the Supreme Court to force states to redraw districts in order to ensure that “black voters can control a number of seats” equivalent to their percentage of the population. Further, Thomas added, a law that did require this action would be in violation of the Constitution.

The White House and Attorney General Merrick Garland praised the ruling. Garland said it made sure voters’ racial status did not compromise their right to vote.

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