Supreme Court to Hear Arguments in Challenge to Claims of Racial Gerrymandering in Alabama

Just over a year ago the Supreme Court walloped a key provision of the landmark 1965 Voting Rights Act, making it tougher to establish that a change to an election law – say, cutting back on early voting – discriminated against minority voters.

Now, voting rights advocates fear, the court is winding up for another swing.

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The justices will hear oral arguments Tuesday in a challenge to Alabama’s recently redrawn congressional map, which includes one district out of seven with a majority of Black voters – even though African Americans make up 27% of the state’s population. The court’s ruling could have sweeping implications for congressional maps nationwide.

Alabama officials assert the new districts are race-neutral and that creating a second African American district would require mapmakers to focus on race as their top priority, a command they say would itself amount to unconstitutional discrimination. Opponents say that argument turns the whole point of the Voting Rights Act on its head.

“The Voting Rights Act was created precisely to prevent the kind of manipulation of district lines that undermine the political power of Black communities that we see in Alabama,” said Sophia Lin Lakin of the American Civil Liberties Union, one of the groups that initially challenged Alabama’s new congressional districts last fall.

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SOURCE: USA Today, John Fritze

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