Supreme Court Surprisingly Preserves Voting Rights Protection 

Press Release

Alabama

Issues

Voting Rights


WASHINGTON, D.C., June 8, 2023 – Today the Supreme Court issued a decision surprisingly and thankfully preserving one of the only sections of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) they hadn’t previously gutted. The opinion preserves the VRA’s prohibition on gerrymandering in ways that reduce the representation of voters on the basis of race.  

At issue in the case Allen v. Milligan (previously Merrill v. Milligan) is Alabama’s decision after the last census to redraw its congressional maps in a way that reduced the number of Black-majority districts from two to one. Though lower-court judges found this redistribution of the state’s 27% Black representation a clear violation of Section 2 of the VRA, the Supreme Court decided in 2022 to allow elections to proceed with the discriminatory maps. That shadow docket decision was an omen that the Court was prepared to overturn this section of the VRA, following past decisions weakening the law (Shelby County v. Holder and Brnovich v. DNC). 

Today’s ruling, however, upholds the district court’s finding that state lawmakers impermissibly gerrymandered in Alabama. 

Alliance for Justice President Rakim H.D. Brooks issued the following statement:  

“Despite his fervent campaign to dismantle the Voting Rights Act, John Roberts managed to recognize what has long been obvious: Congress is committed to protecting voters from racial discrimination. In this case, Alabama clearly targeted Black voters for discrimination, which plainly violates the VRA. So the Court was forced to do the right thing and enforce the VRA, as designed. The evidence was just too obvious here; our protections against racial gerrymandering live to see another day. 

“This is a good day, except for the fact that Justice Thomas penned another vicious attack on the VRA. He claims, ‘These cases are not close,’ but that has no basis in the Court’s precedent nor any grounding in the Constitution. If he would just resign, we would be spared having to read these unhinged attacks on multiracial democracy — the source of which remain uncertain since he took those undisclosed trips with Harlan Crow.”