WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Thursday, June 8, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a landmark ruling in Allen v. Milligan in which the majority struck down Alabama’s congressional map and upheld Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA).
The decision will require Alabama to redraw its congressional map to include a second majority-Black district in accordance with a lower court order that found that the map dilutes the voting strength of Black voters. The Supreme Court’s decision reaffirms that Section 2 is constitutional and will remain an integral tool in fighting racial vote dilution.
The Court’s decision in Allen will impact 30 other redistricting lawsuits in 10 different states. Most directly, Allen will impact a Section 2 lawsuit challenging Louisiana’s congressional map. Last June, the Supreme Court paused the Louisiana case pending a decision in Allen. Now that the Court has issued a decision in Allen, litigation over Louisiana’s congressional map will resume, creating an opportunity for fairer representation for the state’s Black voters. Even though Black residents make up one-third of Louisiana’s population, they can only elect their candidate of choice in one out of the six congressional districts.
Just hours after Allen was issued, the state of Louisiana sent a letter to the Supreme Court requesting that the Court schedule oral argument and merits briefing in the Louisiana congressional redistricting case. The Louisiana petitioners argue that the facts in their case “distinguish” the case from Allen and thus urge the Court to hear the case separately on its full merits docket.
Although the Louisiana petitioners contend that their case, Ardoin v. Robinson, is markedly different from Allen and should be heard by the Supreme Court in full, the Louisiana case does share similarities to Allen. The plaintiffs in Ardoin, like those in Allen, argue that the state’s current congressional map dilutes the voting strength of Black residents by failing to include an additional minority opportunity district in violation of Section 2.
In both Alabama and Louisiana, Black residents only have the opportunity to elect candidates of their choice in one congressional district despite accounting for 27 and 33 percent of the population, respectively. Indeed, the Supreme Court seemed to recognize the similarities between the two cases when it issued an order pausing Ardoin while it decided Allen.
In addition to impacting Louisiana, the Court’s Allen decision is already reverberating across the country. Just yesterday, a federal court in Georgia requested additional briefing regarding the Allen decision from the parties in a challenge to Georgia’s legislative and congressional maps. In a Kansas lawsuit challenging the at-large system used for electing members to a city commission, the plaintiffs already submitted a notice to the court arguing that yesterday’s ruling is further proof that private litigants are entitled to bring challenges under Section 2 of the VRA.