WASHINGTON, DC — Today, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) upheld in Allen v. Milligan a lower court ruling that Alabama must create a second majority Black congressional district in compliance with Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. The court’s decision affirms the ruling of a district court panel of three judges, which included two appointees of former President Donald Trump.
The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), the League of Women Voters of Alabama (LWVAL), the League of Women Voters of the United States (LWVUS), Schulte Roth & Zabel LLP (SRZ), and Stand-Up Mobile submitted an amicus brief to the nation’s highest court outlining how Black Alabamians in the Black Belt and in Mobile constitute a community of interest and have been systematically deprived of their right to elect candidates of their choice to represent their interests in Congress.
“Today the Supreme Court affirmed the rights of Black voters in Alabama to elect the leaders of their choice,” said Kathy Jones, president of the League of Women Voters of Alabama. “This ruling supports the decision of the three-judge panel that these maps diluted voting power based on race. It is a powerful declaration that Black voices in Alabama will no longer be ignored. We are pleased that we are one step closer to finally achieving equal representation in our state.”
“Today’s decision was worth the wait. The Court has affirmed the crucial role of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act in ensuring that states cannot dilute the political power of Black communities during the redistricting process and that Black voters must have the opportunity to elect the leaders of their choice,” said Celina Stewart, chief counsel and senior director of advocacy and litigation for the League of Women Voters of the US. “Today’s ruling protects equal access to representation and is a necessary assurance to Black Alabamians and Americans that equal representation in our democracy is not out of reach, and instead recognition of a hard-fought and deserved right.”
“The Supreme Court’s decision recognizes that the right of all Americans to equal representation still stands, but the fight does not end here,” said Bradley Heard, voting rights deputy legal director for the SPLC. “We will continue to challenge any barriers to voting wherever we see them, and we will advocate for the full restoration of all protections under the Voting Rights Act.”
“Today’s ruling has real meaning for Black Alabamians and the issues that most directly impact their lives, work, and families,” said Noah N. Gillespie, attorney with Schulte Roth & Zabel LLP, which served as pro-bono counsel on the brief. “This decision shows Alabama and states across the country that the protections of the Voting Rights Act remain strong.”
“We’re glad that the Supreme Court has reaffirmed our right to an equal voice advocating for Black communities in Alabama. This represents a victory for equal rights over discrimination,” said Beverly Cooper, co-founder of Stand Up Mobile. “With an equal voice we will continue advocating for equal investment in our infrastructure, education and healthcare, and we will push for fully restoring voting protections to ensure all voters can make their voices heard.”
Alabama holds seven seats in the US House of Representatives. Under its current map, the legislature used a discriminatory redistricting technique called “cracking” in the state’s Black Belt, where Black people comprise a majority of the population. The map drawers dispersed residents in such a way that Black voters could only elect candidates of their choice in one of the state’s districts, despite comprising roughly 27% of the state’s voting age population.
In January, a three-judge district court panel — two of whom were Trump appointees — found that Alabama’s map was substantially likely to violate Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. They found that: (1) the Black voting age population was sufficiently numerous and geographically compact to constitute a majority in a second reasonably sized voting district; (2) Black Alabamians vote in a politically cohesive way; and (3) white voters vote sufficiently as a bloc to defeat Black voters’ preferred candidates.
Alabama appealed to the US Supreme Court, which upheld the lower court's decision and affirmed the right of Black Alabamians to fair representation.
About the League of Women Voters
The League of Women Voters encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education, and advocacy. www.lwv.org
About the Southern Poverty Law Center
The Southern Poverty Law Center is a catalyst for racial justice in the South and beyond, working in partnership with communities to dismantle white supremacy, strengthen intersectional movements, and advance the human rights of all people. For more information, visit www.splcenter.org.
About Schulte Roth & Zabel
Schulte Roth & Zabel LLP (srz.com) is a full-service law firm with offices in New York, Washington, DC and London. As one of the leading law firms serving the financial services industry, the firm advises clients on investment management, corporate and transactional matters, and provides counsel on securities regulatory compliance, enforcement and investigative issues. The firm also has a long history as a leader in pro bono legal work and a legacy of contributing to the greater good. SRZ embraces its professional and moral obligations to seek justice through the legal system.
PRESS CONTACT: Shannon Augustus | 202-768-9578 | [email protected]
The Latest from the League
In the last decade, the US Supreme Court has severely weakened the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which was widely agreed to be the most influential civil rights law in our history.
This term, the Court considers Section 2 in Merrill v. Milligan (now Allen v. Milligan). It threatens to weaken a well-established precedent lower courts have used for decades to evaluate redistricting plans alleged to be racially discriminatory.
This blog explores the history of Section 2 and its impact on discriminatory redistricting plans, explains the dispute in Milligan, and previews potential next steps to protect voting rights.