The Supreme Court reinstated a controversial Alabama redistricting congressional map that a federal court had deemed discriminatory because it diluted the power of Black voters.
The vote of the conservative-stacked Supreme Court suggests that the highest court in the U.S. is poised to become even more skeptical of challenges to voting maps based on discrimination claims.
The ruling included no reasoning and was provisional. It said that it would hear Alabama’s appeal of the federal court’s ruling, but a date was not provided.
However, typical procedures mean that the schedule for the argument will likely be made for the fall, with decisions coming months later. This means that this year’s 2022 election will likely be conducted using the controversial and challenging map.
The staying of the federal court’s decision, as well as the decision to hear the case in general, indicates the court is open to weakening the role that race plays in drawing up voting districts for federal elections. It will be a huge test for the Voting Rights Act.
The federal court had ruled that Alabama’s new congressional map violates the Voting Rights Act, and blocked the map from coming into effect.
The new map violated Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act because it only includes one district where Black voters would have the opportunity to elect a candidate of their preference. Federal judges said that Alabama should have two districts, not just one, where Black voters make up a sizable portion of the voting population.
The ruling argued that Black voters in the state have much less opportunity than other Alabama voters to elect Congressional candidates of their choice, and therefore would “suffer an irreparable harm” if they were forced to vote in the upcoming 2022 elections based on this redistricting plan.
But the Supreme Court has upheld the map for now, meaning that irreparable harm will be felt in the 2022 election, as the state will likely be voting off of this redistricting plan.
Alabama has a congressional delegation of seven members. Six of those are Republicans, and they were elected in mainly white districts. The sole Democrat comes from the only district with a Black majority.
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