The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday dealt Alabama Republicans a setback in their bid to redistrict the state’s congressional delegation with a map that would contain only one majority-Black district. The ruling declared the map an unconstitutional infringement on voters’ civil liberties.
For the second time in three months, the court concluded that the map violated a key part of the Voting Rights Act, though no dissenting opinions were released nor a reasoning by the majority.
The first ruling in June sent lawmakers back to the drawing board, resulting in a new map that is still being litigated in lower courts. However, the alternative map still contains only one majority-Black district despite the state having a Black population totaling 27 percent. In one ruling on the new map, a judge concluded that at least one more majority-Black district is required.
“We are not aware of any other case in which a state legislature — faced with a federal court order declaring that its electoral plan unlawfully dilutes minority votes and requiring a plan that provides an additional opportunity district — responded with a plan that the state concedes does not provide that district,” one of the court rulings said.
Congressional redistricting occurs every decade following the U.S. census and began when Republicans kept control of the Alabama legislature following the 2020 elections. Several challengers, including individual voters and the Alabama State Conference of the NAACP, said the map violated Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act by discriminating against Black voters.
Adding a second majority-Black district in arguably the most conservative state in the nation could tip the scales in favor of Democrats retaking control of the U.S. House next year. Republicans hold a slim five-seat majority with a vocal minority frequently at odds with Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) over government funding and leadership style, a situation that has Democrats gloatingly offering McCarthy a Faustian bargain in exchange for ending an impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden.