Washington | U.S. Supreme Court justices on Tuesday considered a redistricting map in the state of Alabama that was accused of undermining the influence of black voters who lean Democratic.
The case is getting more attention because the conservative-majority Supreme Court may seize the opportunity to strike down the 1965 Civil Rights Act.
“The Voting Rights Act is one of the great advances in our democracy (…) and aims to ensure that African Americans have the same political power as white Americans,” said progressive Justice Elena Kagan, who lamented that she had already been weakened twice. By the High Court.
“What will be left of this?” After this new file, she was surprised.
Specifically, it relates to Alabama’s redrawn map to allocate seats in the House of Representatives in 2021 by elected Republicans. By electoral division, black voters — who represent 27% of the population — form a majority in only one of the seven constituencies and are scattered in the other six.
However, in Alabama, as in many southern states, African-Americans vote predominantly Democratic and white voters vote Republican. So the new card is suspected to favor the Republican Party.
To invalidate it, citizens and unions took legal action, alleging that it violated the “Voting Rights Act,” which prevented African-Americans from diluting their votes.
According to them, the new map goes right through the middle of the predominantly black area called the “Black Belt” and cuts it in two. They believe Alabama should have created a second state with a black majority.
Earlier this year, the first trial court agreed with them and ordered local elected officials to issue a new copy. Republican officials rushed back to the Supreme Court.
In February, five of the prestigious institution’s nine jurors authorized them to hold the 2021 redistricting for now — and therefore to the midterm elections in November — postponing consideration of the file below.
It took place on Tuesday and lasted nearly two hours, with the Supreme Court reopening to the public and leading to lively debates.
Beyond the debate on its map, Alabama, through its attorney’s voice, has prohibited the United States Constitution from taking racial criteria into account during electoral divisions. Conservative Justice Samuel Alito appeared to support the idea, repeatedly stressing the importance of having “racially neutral maps.”
Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, an African-American who has sat on the Supreme Court since Monday, vehemently opposed this reading. According to her, the principle of equality among all Americans “is not a foreign concept” and was adopted after the emancipation of former slaves “so that people who suffered discrimination in the past (…) are treated equally”.
Alabama Attorney General Edmund LaCure countered that the policy “prohibits discriminatory actions by states, but does not require affirmative action.”
The exchange foreshadows other debates to come: In late October, the Supreme Court is expected to examine plans at American universities to promote racial mixing that Republicans see as discriminatory against white students.
She has to make these decisions by June 30.
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