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Supreme Court Rules Alabama Redistricting Plan Violated Voting Rights Act

Decision Sends Case Back to Trial Court, Alabama to Redraw Congressional Map

There are 17 noteworthy redistricting cases that the Supreme Court has heard since 1946, with the most recent one being Allen v. Milligan. In a 5-4 decision on June 8. “We affirm the judgment of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Alabama that the state’s congressional redistricting plan adopted in November 2021 violated the Voting Rights Act,” said SCOTUS. The Court referred the case back to the trial court for further proceedings and Alabama will redraw its congressional map to include a second majority-minority district.

The U.S. Supreme Court is the nation’s court of last resort and has heard various cases throughout its history regarding the drawing of congressional and legislative district lines. When the court issues rulings in these cases, the precedents established affect redistricting practices throughout the country.

US Supreme Court Judges, with the Chief Justice of the United States John G. Roberts, seated in the middle pose for a portrait in the east conference room of the building of the Supreme Court in 2017 in Washington, DC.As the nation’s court of last resort, the U.S. Supreme Court has heard various cases throughout its history regarding the drawing of congressional and legislative district lines. MATT McCLAIN/THE WASHINGTON POST VIA GETTY IMAGES

Some other noteworthy redistricting cases include:

  • Arizona State Legislature v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission (2015), where the Supreme Court by a 5-4 vote affirmed the constitutionality of the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission, which was established by state constitutional amendment in 2000. The court ruled that “redistricting is a legislative function, to be performed in accordance with the state’s prescriptions for lawmaking, which may include the referendum and the governor’s veto.”
  • Shelby County v. Holder (2013), where the Supreme Court by a 5-4 vote declared Section 4(b) of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 unconstitutional, removing preclearance requirements for all jurisdictions unless the preclearance formula of Section 4(b) is updated by Congress.
  • Wesberry v. Sanders (1964), where the court ruled 6-3 that congressional districts must have nearly equal populations in order to ensure that “as nearly as is practicable, one man’s vote in a congressional election is to be worth as much as another’s.”

“As of June 23, one noteworthy redistricting case—Moore v. Harper—was pending adjudication before the U.S. Supreme Court. At issue, in this case, is whether state legislatures alone are empowered by the Constitution to regulate federal elections without oversight from state courts, which is also known as the independent state legislature doctrine,” said Ballotpedia. 

Produced in association with Ballotpedia

Edited by Judy J. Rotich and Virginia Van Zandt

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