The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday took a step back from the brink of completely watering down the landmark 1965 Voting Rights Act.
A coalition of liberal and conservative judges says that in states where voting is racially polarized, legislatures must create the maximum number of black-majority or near-majority black districts. Substantially upheld the 1986 court ruling by a 5-4 vote. Traditional redistricting criteria.
Chief Justice John Roberts, in the opinion of the majority, said the opinion “mitigates or ignores concerns that the VRA may unacceptably increase race in the distribution of political power within the state.” not,” he wrote. “Instead, the court simply finds these concerns here untenable by faithful application of precedent and fair reading of the record.”
The remark was unexpected. On two previous occasions, conservative courts have taken action to water down the provisions of the Voting Rights Act, leaving what was once a hailed groundbreaking bill now in vain. However, the decision appears to have left the last remaining guardrails in the zoning arrangement intact, unlike other provisions that have been abolished or repealed.
At issue was a redistricting plan for the Alabama legislature adopted by the Republican-majority legislature after the 2020 Census. Although more than a quarter of the state’s population, 27 percent, is African American, the way congressional districts are drawn means that minority voters have no realistic chance of electing their preferred candidate. Only one constituency out of seven constituencies. district.
In January 2022, a district court of three judges, including two appointed by President Trump, ruled that under the Voting Rights Act, Alabama has only one small congressional district with a majority or near-majority of black voters. They unanimously ruled that two should have been created instead. A panel of three judges ruled that Alabama would squeeze most of the political influence of black voters by cramming them into a single constituency and dispersing the remaining minority voters into other constituencies. He said he did the typical vote dilution of not having one.
The state argued that unless there was intentional discrimination, congressional districts should be drawn without regard to race, and that the Alabama legislature drew congressional district boundaries in a race-neutral manner. appealed to the Supreme Court. The state has created hundreds of potential maps based on race neutrality, noting that none of them have produced second-majority black or near-majority black neighborhoods.
Based on a Supreme Court precedent that goes back nearly 40 years, black voters have argued that racially polarized states should allow minority voters to choose candidates of their choice if possible under the Voting Rights Act. He countered that it was necessary to draw constituency boundaries that would give him a chance to be elected.
For example, the legislature had no difficulty establishing black second-majority congressional districts on the State Board of Education, nor did it have difficulty creating black second-majority congressional districts along the Gulf Coast. They could have done something similar, they pointed out.
On Thursday, the court agreed.