The U.S. Supreme Court has reversed a district court’s ruling upholding Alabama’s 2012 redistricting plan, saying the lower court had erred in upholding several aspects of the law. The 5-4 ruling said the Alabama Legislature – which adopted a very strict standard requiring maintenance of minority voters in certain districts – “asked the wrong question” in drawing its maps. The court wrote:
They asked how to maintain the present minority percentages in majority-minority districts, instead of asking the extent to which they must preserve existing minority percentages in order to maintain the minority’s present ability to elect the candidate of its choice. Because asking the wrong question may well have led to the wrong answer, the Court cannot accept the District Court’s conclusion.
It appears that the decision does not immediately affect the state’s legislative map. The high court sent the case back to district court for further proceedings. The Alabama Legislative Black Caucus and the Alabama Democratic Conference sued to overturn the districts in 2013, arguing that the new maps amounted to “packing and stacking” by concentrating black voters in individual districts, where they would be unable to form alliances with like-minded white voters.
Republicans argued they were following Voting Rights Act requirements of not significantly reducing minority percentages in districts, and said they were trying to account for population losses in predominantly black districts. Not having read the opinion, I am not sure where this leaves things. It will be most interesting to see how the lower court will deal with the case now. It’s rather ironic that both sides are claiming a victory from the Supreme Court’s opinion.
Source: Montgomery Advertiser
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