Supreme Court Orders Race-Based Redistricting in Alabama
On June 8th, 2023, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Black Americans and ordered race-based redistricting in Alabama. In a 5-4 decision, Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh joined with the court’s liberals to affirm a lower-court ruling that found a likely violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.
The case revolved around a congressional map drawn by state lawmakers in Alabama after the 2020 census. The plaintiffs argued that the map was an example of racial gerrymandering, as it diluted Black voters’ political power by packing them into certain districts while spreading out white voters across multiple districts.
The Supreme Court agreed with this assessment, ruling that the map violated Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act and ordering Alabama to redraw its congressional districts for 2022 elections. This is seen as a major victory for voting rights advocates, who feared that any decision about redistricting in Alabama would further undermine the Voting Rights Act.
In his majority opinion, Chief Justice Roberts wrote: “This case presents us with an unfortunate reality: Voters in some parts of the State face unequal access to political participation and unequal influence on elections simply because of their race…We must not shrink from our obligation to enforce this fundamental principle of equal citizenship under law.”
Justice Clarence Thomas dissented from the majority opinion, arguing that “the Constitution does not permit courts to engage in policymaking better left to elected representatives” and that “the majority’s approach will only exacerbate tensions between races by creating new opportunities for racial discrimination against whites.”
This ruling is being hailed as a major victory for voting rights advocates and civil rights activists who have long fought against racial gerrymandering and other forms of voter suppression. It is also seen as an important step forward in protecting minority voting rights across America.