https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/suprem ... -rcna64476The Supreme Court on Thursday struck down Republican-drawn congressional districts in Alabama that civil rights activists say discriminated against Black voters in a surprise reaffirmation of the landmark Voting Rights Act. The court in a 5-4 vote ruled against Alabama, meaning the map of the seven congressional districts, which heavily favors Republicans, will now be redrawn. Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh, both conservatives, joined the court's three liberals in the majority. In doing so, the court — which has a 6-3 conservative majority — turned away the state’s effort to make it harder to remedy concerns raised by civil rights advocates that the power of Black voters in states like Alabama is being diluted by dividing voters into districts where white voters dominate.
In the ruling, Roberts, writing for the majority, said a lower court had correctly concluded that the congressional map violated the voting rights law. In 2013, Roberts authored a ruling that gutted a separate, important provision of the Voting Rights Act and has long argued that various government efforts to address historic racial discrimination are problematic and may exacerbate the situation. He wrote in Thursday's ruling that there are genuine fears that the Voting Rights Act “may impermissibly elevate race in the allocation of political power” and that the Alabama ruling “does not diminish or disregard those concerns." The court instead “simply holds that a faithful application of our precedents and a fair reading of the record before us do not bear them out here,” Roberts added.
As such, the court left open future challenges to the law, with Kavanaugh writing in a separate opinion that his vote did not rule out challenges to Section 2 based on whether there is a time at which the 1965 law's authorization of the consideration of race in redistricting is no longer justified. Civil rights groups and their supporters, including the Biden administration, reveled in a largely unexpected victory. “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. Abha Khanna, a lawyer for plaintiffs who challenged the maps, said the court had correctly struck down a "textbook violation" of the Voting Rights Act.
Despite the ruling, Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall vowed to fight on. "Although the majority’s decision is disappointing, this case is not over," he said in a brief statement. The two consolidated cases arose from litigation over the new congressional district map that was drawn by the Republican-controlled Alabama Legislature after the 2020 census. The challengers, including individual voters and the Alabama State Conference of the NAACP, said the map violated Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act by discriminating against Black voters.
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