Jun 8, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Supreme Court rules in favor of minority voters and Voting Rights Act

An image of the outside of the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The Supreme Court struck down a Republican-drawn congressional map in Alabama on Thursday, ruling that the state violated the landmark Voting Rights Act.

Why it matters: The surprising 5-4 Supreme Court decision offers a rare victory for civil rights groups and minority voters, who said the GOP-drawn congressional districts in Alabama discriminated against Black voters.

Context: The case, Allen v. Milligan, examined the Alabama GOP legislature's 2021 congressional redistricting map, which heavily favored Republicans. Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act allows voters to dispute racially discriminatory maps.

  • The now-rejected map gave Black voters, who make up about 27% of the state, the majority in just one of the state's seven congressional districts, following the 2020 U.S. Census.
  • The Supreme Court decision affirms a lower court's ruling that the map violated the act, which requires providing minority voters "an equal opportunity to participate in the political process."
  • The Supreme Court previously sided with the state by allowing the 2021 map to stand for the 2022 elections.

What they're saying: The Supreme Court wrote in the 112-page ruling, "Although we are content to reject Alabama's invitation to change existing law on the ground that the State misunderstands §2 [Section 2] and our decisions implementing it, we also address how the race-neutral benchmark would operate in practice."

  • "Alabama's approach fares poorly on that score, which further counsels against our adopting it," the court said.
  • The decision was supported by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Brett M. Kavanaugh, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan and Ketanji Brown Jackson.
  • "This is a huge win for Black voters in Alabama, who now have a fair opportunity to elect candidates of their choice to Congress," the American Civil Liberties Union said on Twitter.
  • "Today’s decision rejects efforts to further erode fundamental voting rights protections, and preserves the principle that in the United States, all eligible voters must be able to exercise their constitutional right to vote free from discrimination based on their race," Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement.
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