Alabama Republicans’ attempt to redistrict the state’s congressional delegation with a map that would include only one majority-Black district was met with a defeat on Monday by the U.S. Supreme Court. According to the verdict, the map violates the civil liberties of voters and is unlawful.
The court found that the map violated a significant portion of the Voting Rights Act for the second time in three months, but neither the majority opinion nor the minority opinions were made public.
Legislators were forced to start over after the initial decision in June, and the current plan is still being challenged in lower courts. Even though the state’s Black population makes up 27% of the total, the alternative map still only has one district with a majority of Black residents. A judge determined that at least one additional majority-Black district is necessary in one of the rulings on the revised map.
“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.
Every ten years, after the United States census, congressional redistricting takes place. It started in 2020, when Republicans retained control of the Alabama legislature. The Alabama State Conference of the NAACP and a number of other opponents claimed that the map discriminated against Black voters in violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.
In what is perhaps the most conservative state in the union, the addition of a second majority-Black district might tip the scales in favor of Democrats taking back control of the U.S. House in the upcoming year. Republicans maintain a slim five-seat majority, but a vocal minority regularly disagrees with Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) about government spending and leadership approaches. As a result, Democrats are gloatingly offering McCarthy a deal that would end the impeachment investigation of President Joe Biden in exchange for their support.