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9 Feb, 2022 01:26

GOP secures Supreme Court win on Alabama voting map

A 5-4 vote reinstated GOP-drawn congressional districts, despite one judge warning it is a “disservice to black Alabamians”
GOP secures Supreme Court win on Alabama voting map

The US Supreme Court put a hold on a lower court ruling ordering the state of Alabama to draw new congressional districts out of concern for black voters not being sufficiently taken into account. 

The congressional map with fresh approval from the Supreme Court was drawn up by a Republican-controlled legislature, and activists argue that the congressional lines could help to discount minority votes and help the GOP hold onto the majority of the state’s representatives. 

In a sharp dissent from the majority opinion, Justice Elena Kagan called the congressional map a “disservice to black Alabamians,” adding they have had their “electoral power diminished.” 

Justice Brett Kavanaugh, meanwhile, explained the court’s decision by saying that it was far too close to the 2022 midterms for Alabama to comply with a court order to redraw their districts. 

While the district mapping will remain in place for the midterms, the justices said they would be hearing arguments and concerns over the map itself, likely in the fall. This could lead to the map being scrapped. For now, however, it remains in place. Kavanaugh wrote that the decision to freeze the lower court order “does not make or signal any change” to voting rights laws.

Activists argued the district lines needed to be redrawn as a quarter of Alabama’s population is black, but only one district has a majority of black voters, which is represented by Terri Sewell, a black Democrat. 

A previous lower court order ruled that the congressional map drawn violated the Voting Rights Act, arguing that the state should have two majority-black districts, instead of one. 

“Black voters have less opportunity than other Alabamians to elect candidates of their choice to Congress,” the three-judge panel wrote in their decision last month.