Tuesday, February 8, 2022

Supreme Court Reinstates AL's Voting Map

In 5-4 Vote, the Sumpreme Court Reinstate Alabama Voting Map despite Lower Court’s Ruling that it Dilutes Black Votes, Violating, Section 2, of the Voting Rights Act (VRA), with Illegal Racial Gerrymandering.

Alabama Redistricting Plan, after the 2020 Census for the State’s Seven Seats in the House of Representatives. One of the Seven Districts in the Plan is a Majority-Black District.

Registered Voters, along with the Alabama Chapter of the NAACP, and Greater Birmingham Ministries, a multifaith Community organization, went to Federal Court to Challenge the Map. They argued that the State had Illegally packed many Black Voters into a Single District while Dispersing other clusters of Black Voters across Multiple Districts. The effect of the Map, according to the Challengers, is to Minimize the Number of Districts in which Black Voters can Elect their chosen Candidates.

On Jan. 24, a Three-Judge District Court, with Two district Judges appointed by Trump, and a judge appointed by Clinton, ordered the State to Draw a New Map. The Court explained that the State’s Legislature should have the First Chance to Draw a Redistricting Plan that includes Two Majority-Black Districts, rather than just One, and it gave the State Two weeks to do so. But if the Legislature can’t get the job done in time, the Court continued, it would Hire an Expert to draw a New Map.

On Jan. 27, the Three-Judge Court, turned down the State’s Plea to put its Order on hold, while the State Appealed.

The State asked the Supreme Court to Freeze the District Court’s Order while it Appeals. In a brief order on Monday, the Court granted that request and set the Dispute for Oral Argument sometime next fall.

Justice Elena Kagan wrote a 12-page Dissent that was joined by Justices Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor. She emphasized that normally a Litigant asks the Supreme Court to Freeze the Lower-Court Order because it believes that the Lower Court got the Law wrong. But here, she said, “[a]ccepting Alabama’s contentions would rewrite decades of this Court’s precedents about Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.” If the Court is going to make these Changes, she stressed, it should do so after a Full Briefing and Oral Argument, not on the so-called “Shadow Docket.” In Kagan’s view, the District Court properly applied Existing Law. Putting its Ruling On-Hold, she wrote, “forces black Alabamians to suffer what under that law is clear vote dilution.”

Justice Brett Kavanaugh responded to Kagan’s Dissent with his own Concurring Opinion, Freezing the District Court’s Order is consistent with the Election-Law Doctrine known as the Purcell Principle, the idea that Federal Courts should not change state election rules shortly before an election. “Running elections statewide is extraordinarily complicated and difficult,” Kavanaugh observed. The District Court’s Order, he wrote, “would require heroic efforts by” Election Officials “in the next few weeks – and even heroic efforts likely would not be enough to avoid chaos and confusion.”

Kagan in turn Disputed Kavanaugh’s Contention that it was too Late to require Alabama to Redraw its Maps. The Alabama Legislature, she noted, enacted the current Map in less than a Week and can move quickly again if it wants to. But in any event, she continued, the State’s Primary is still Four months away, while the General Election is nearly Nine months away.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker

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