Alabama Republicans’ outrageous disregard for the Supreme Court reached its limit on Tuesday when a federal district court ruled that the state’s new congressional cards discriminate against black citizens and violate the Voting Rights Act. The decision was entirely predictable, as Republican lawmakers have openly refused to draw districts that conform to the Supreme Court’s recent ruling against them. But the statement is still notable for its scathing and angry criticism of the state’s legislature leaders for their perfidious but clumsy efforts to evade a court order. The court is exhaustive 196-page decision not only shoots down the new, racist cards, but also adds a new layer to the case: this dispute is now largely about the enforcement powers of the federal judiciary his own decisions against states determined to erode the voting rights of their black residents. If Alabama appeals to the SCOTUS, the judges will note this shift. And when a state legislature challenges the Supreme Court’s powers, you should never bet against the court.
Alabama has ruthlessly sought to undermine the political power of racial minorities since Reconstruction ended in 1876. The sad truth is that in 2023, black residents of Alabam have not actually achieved equal citizenship in the state. His state constitution remained in place explicitly racist document designed to be preserved “white supremacy”, including Jim Crow and slavery until last year, when voters eventually replaced it. No black Alabamian has won a statewide election since Reconstruction. And in 2021, white Republicans used their stranglehold on the legislature to convert racial minorities into a permanent minority. Despite the state being nearly one-third black, the 2021 Legislature’s cards gave black voters a majority in just one out of seven congressional districts. As a result, white voters controlled 86 percent of congressional districts, while only 65 percent of the state’s population is non-Hispanic white.
Voting rights advocates filed suit against this redistribution plan, claiming it violated the Voting Rights Act. This law includes a requirement known as Section 2 that racial minorities have equal opportunities to elect representatives of their choice. A right-wing district court will be established in January 2022 based on long-standing precedents one-sided with the plaintiffs and ordered that the state establish a second “opportunity” district “in which black voters constitute either a majority of voting age or something quite close to it.” (These cases are tried by three district court judges, and that panel included two people appointed by Donald Trump.) The Supreme Court upheld that decision in June Allen against Milligan, a 5-4 opinion from Chief Justice John Roberts, who was joined by Justice Brett Kavanaugh and the Liberals. Roberts went out of his way to support the district court’s opinion on all aspects, including his mandate for a second “opportunity” district controlled by black voters.
However, Republicans in Alabama viewed the Supreme Court ruling as a mere suggestion. After a pointless delay, the legislature issue a card which had the same defects as the old one. His new “Chances” district did not Give black voters a majority “or something very close,” as the district court had required and the Supreme Court approved. Instead, black Alabamians make up just under 40 percent of the borough’s voting population. Of course, 40 percent is neither a majority nor “very close” to a majority under Supreme Court precedents on voting rights. GOP House Speaker Nathaniel Ledbetter gave the game away as he explained that “the Supreme Court’s verdict was 5 to 4, so there is only one judge who needed to see otherwise.” His aim was not to draw a legal map, but to extract a conservative judiciary from the Supreme Court majority. In fact, he and his colleagues did not even claim to be following the court’s order. They simply insisted that their new card would restart the entire court process, erasing the court’s previous analysis and forcing it to start all over again.
The district court did not agree. “We are deeply troubled,” it said Tuesday, “that the state has issued a card that it readily admits does not provide the relief that we believe federal law requires.” We are troubled by the evidence for the state delaying remedial action, but ultimately not even having the ambition to provide the required remedial action. And we are struck by the extraordinary situation we face.” The court noted that never before has a state presented a revised redistribution plan that according to the state, does not correspond to a previous order. Somehow, decades after the racist rule of George Wallace, we find ourselves in uncharted territory when it comes to the suppression of racist voters in Alabama.
Again, Alabama’s main argument at this stage is that each time lawmakers redraw a map, the courts must discard their previous analysis and start the case over. Additionally, according to the state, the courts must allow elections under the contested plan while also considering each new map drawn. And if a court bans a new map, it must put its decision on hold for all upcoming races. It must Also Wait for the legislature to produce a replacement card before enforcing one of your own, even if the legislature is reluctantly trying to shorten the time until the next election.
The court found this position not only unconvincing but also unconstitutional. “The state’s view,” it said, “contradicts judicial authority under Article III because it allows the state to limit (and indeed manipulate) the court’s authority to grant equitable remedies.” Alabama is attempting to “Creating an endless paradox that only it can break, thereby depriving plaintiffs of the ability to effectively bring suit and the courts of the ability to remedy the situation.” States cannot turn voting disputes into an “infinite loop” that only they can stop.
Then, just to make matters worse, the court went further and judged the new card “at least from scratch”. It easily concluded that, like the previous plan, these counties violated the Voting Rights Act by denying black citizens an equal opportunity to elect their preferred representatives.
There were more excavations along the way. Last time, the court found that the testimony of Alabama “expert witness” Thomas Bryan lacked credibility and was based on error, confusion and “obnoxious” racial stereotypes. This time, “it is as if our determination of credibility never took place,” the court wrote. “The state repeatedly cites Mr. Bryan’s opinion but makes no effort to restore his credibility.” Alabama’s attempt to denigrate the Voting Rights Act as unconstitutional racism fared no better. The state claimed that protecting black voters was tantamount to “positive action in redistribution,” which violated the equal treatment clause. It even suggested that the district court’s own order might run counter to the same protections by being overly protective of essentially black citizens.
This is where Alabama tried to channel power Kavanaugh muses that “race-based redistribution,” like affirmative action, must have an end point — right now, as the state says. In its failed attempt to advance this argument, the state eventually accused the district court itself of racism. And so, in another way, Alabama Republicans argued with the question of whether the judiciary itself had the power to enforce the Voting Rights Act, rather than a dispute over the scope of the law. As the Supreme Court clarified in another choice In the last legislature, it is not kind to state legislatures to question such judicial authority.
The district court concluded its opinion by ordering a bipartisan, court-appointed special counsel to finally draw a map of Congress that complies with the Voting Rights Act and includes two “opportunity districts” controlled by citizens of color. Alabama will likely ask the Supreme Court for intervention; The chances of success seem slim.
The state has moved to a strategy of denigrating the very district court, which a majority of judges have already fully endorsed. It has turned this case into a referendum on the ability of the federal judiciary to enforce the Federal Voting Rights Act — essentially an attack on the Constitution priority clause himself. Roberts, Kavanaugh and the Liberals may not all agree on the exact contours of the Voting Rights Act. But they are united in the certainty that their decisions, and not the complaints of some snooty state lawmakers, are the law of the country.