The Supreme Court will hear an Alabama redistricting case Tuesday (October 4) that could again dilute Black voting power and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which was put in place to protect minority voters from racial discrimination, per NPR.
Following the beginning of its new term Monday (October 3), the majority-conservative Supreme Court will face one of its first major tests as justices determine whether Alabama’s congressional redistricting plan violates the Voting Rights Act.
Though Black people make up 27 percent of Alabama’s population, only one of the state’s seven congressional districts is majority-Black, per a redistricting plan adopted by the Republican state legislature after the 2020 census.
Plaintiffs of the case argue that the congressional map weakens the vote and influence of Black people across the state.
“[The maps] are purposeful attempts to reduce the impact of Black voters and the preference and will of minority voters in Alabama,” Tish Gotell Faulks, the legal director of the Alabama ACLU, told theGrio.
Earlier this year, a federal court unanimously ruled that Alabama should create at least two majority-Black congressional districts, instead of one.
However, the state appealed to the Supreme Court, which ultimately blocked the lower court’s ruling for a new map by a 5-4 vote. Chief Justice John Roberts joined in dissension with the court’s three liberal justices, saying he could find “no apparent errors” in the lower court ruling based on existing precedents.
Now, the court will hear arguments on whether to revisit and possibly reverse such precedents.
According to Yurij Rudensky of the Brennan Institute, Alabama isn’t arguing against the lower court’s ruling, but instead wants the nation’s highest court to “rewrite the Voting Rights Act to weaken it, to change decades of precedent [and] safeguards that have protected communities of color around the country … against discriminatory redistricting and other election schemes.”
“The stake, in this case, is huge, greater than just the state of Alabama,” plaintiff, Letetia Jackson said, per theGrio. “The outcome of this case will determine whether the language of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act will be upheld. Because if it isn’t, democracy, as we know it, the ability to vote and have elected representation as we know it, will be forever changed.”
Precedent will again be questioned this term as the court hears cases challenging the affirmative action programs at Harvard and the University of North Carolina. The case rests heavily on the Supreme Court’s decision to outlaw segregation in public schools, per NPR.