April 30, 2015 Practice Points

Supreme Court Strikes Down Alabama Gerrymandering

The Court held that the district court’s analysis of the racial-gerrymandering claim as referring to the state “as a whole,” rather than on a district-by-district basis, was erroneous.

By Justin L. Heather

In March, the Supreme Court struck down the 2012 redistricting of Alabama’s state house and senate districts. In Alabama Legislative Black Caucus v. Alabama, 575 U.S. ___ (2015), the Supreme Court held that the district court’s analysis of the racial-gerrymandering claim as referring to the state “as a whole,” rather than on a district-by-district basis, was erroneous. The Court also concluded that the district court’s erred in sua sponte deciding that the Alabama Legislative Black Caucus lacked standing to challenge the redistricting. The high court also concluded that the district court’s alternative holding was in error because the court did not properly calculate the “predominance” factor in determining whether race was a predominant factor in the redistricting decision. Finally, the Supreme Court rejected the district court’s further alternative holding that the challenged districts would survive strict scrutiny, as resting on a misconception of the law.

Keywords: litigation, young lawyer, Supreme Court, redistricting, gerrymandering

— Justin L. Heather, YAC Content Manager, The Quinlan Law Firm LLC, Chicago, IL


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