WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Thursday, June 8, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a 5-4 decision in Allen v. Milligan that leaves Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) intact and, in a landmark win for voters, struck down Alabama’s congressional map. The majority opinion, written by Chief Justice John Roberts, is joined by Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan and Ketanji Brown Jackson and joined in part by Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
Today’s opinion affirms a district court’s decision blocking Alabama’s congressional map for likely violating Section 2 of the VRA by diluting the voting strength of Black Alabamians.
After a district court blocked the map and ordered the creation of a new map with two majority-Black districts, the Supreme Court stepped in and paused this order, keeping the state’s previously blocked map — which only contains one majority-Black district — in place for the 2022 elections. The Supreme Court then heard the full merits of the case in October 2022 and today issued its final decision striking down Alabama’s racially discriminatory map and upholding Section 2 of the VRA.
Today, the Court declined to remake Section 2 precedent “in line with Alabama’s ‘race-neutral benchmark’ theory” and found “Alabama’s new approach to [Section 2] compelling neither in theory nor in practice.”
The Court’s decision to strike down Alabama’s congressional map is an overwhelming win for Alabamians, specifically Black voters, whose voting power was found to be diluted under the current congressional map. Importantly, the conservative Supreme Court did not make the drastic decision to strike down Section 2 of the VRA, leaving an important tool in voting rights litigation in place.
This case will have major positive implications for outstanding redistricting lawsuits. The Court’s decision in Allen likely means that litigation challenging Louisiana’s congressional map can move forward and could pave the way for a favorable outcome for Louisiana voters. Louisiana’s situation directly mirrors Alabama’s. In both states, voting rights advocates argued that a second majority-Black congressional district is needed to ensure compliance with the VRA. The Supreme Court paused Louisiana’s litigation pending a decision in Allen.