It was recently reported that the Supreme Court on Monday put on hold a lower court ruling that Alabama must draw new congressional districts before the 2022 elections, boosting Republican chances to hold six of the state’s seven seats in the House of Representatives.The court’s action, by a 5-4 vote, means the upcoming elections will be conducted under a map drawn by Alabama’s Republican-controlled legislature that contains one majority-Black district, represented by a Black Democrat, in a state in which more than a quarter of the population is Black.
The conservative majority said a lower court acted too close to the 2022 election cycle.
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Chief Justice John Roberts joined his three more liberal colleagues in dissent.
According to CNN, the court’s order, the first dealing with the 2022 elections, means that the map will be used for the state’s upcoming primary, and likely be in place for the entire election cycle, while the legal challenge plays out.The order pauses an opinion by a panel of three judges that held that the Alabama map likely violates Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act because it only includes one district where Black voters have the opportunity to elect a candidate of their choice.
Justice Brett Kavanaugh, writing for himself and fellow conservative Justice Samuel Alito, said the court acted in order to maintain the status quo while the justices consider the issue. Kavanaugh said the court’s order “does not make or signal any change” to voting rights law.
But Roberts, who again found himself siding with the court’s three liberals, said that while he agreed the court should take up the issue for next term to “resolve the wide ranging uncertainties” in the case, he would have allowed the district court opinion to stand while the appeals process played out. The Supreme Court will hear the full case next fall.
“The District Court properly applied existing law in an extensive opinion with no apparent errors for our correction,” Roberts wrote.
Justice Elena Kagan, writing for her liberal colleagues Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor, wrote a much more strongly worded dissent.
Kagan said the majority had gone “badly wrong” in granting Alabama’s request to freeze the lower court opinion and the court’s decision “forces Black Alabamians to suffer what under the law is clear vote dilution.” She said the decision will undermine a key section of the Voting Rights Act.