This article was originally published on abajournal.com.
The U.S. Supreme Court has struck down a congressional voting map that dilutes Black voting strength in Alabama, stating that it would “decline to recast” its caselaw as urged by the state.
The Alabama voting map gave Black voters the power to elect their preferred candidate in only one of seven redrawn districts—despite making up 27% of the state’s population.
The Supreme Court’s June 8 decision upholds a finding by a three-judge panel that the Alabama map violates Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. The law prohibits states from imposing standards, procedures or practices “in a manner which results in a denial or abridgement of the right of any citizen … to vote on account of race or color.”
The Supreme Court majority rejected Alabama’s argument that Congress can address only purposeful discrimination in voting practices under the 15th Amendment and not practices that are discriminatory in effect.
Chief Justice John Roberts’ opinion overturning the map was joined in full by Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan and Ketanji Brown Jackson and mostly joined by Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
The Washington Post called the June 8 decision a “surprise” that “bucked the court’s recent trend of decisions that weakened provisions” of the Voting Rights Act. The Election Law Blog called the decision “an absolutely stunning development.”
The ABA had argued that the Alabama map violated Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act in an amicus brief.