Merrill v. Milligan

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At a Glance

Campaign Legal Center (CLC) is advocating to reinforce the role that Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) plays in blocking redistricting plans that discriminatorily dilute the ability of voters of color to equally participate in the political process.

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The voting maps we draw today will shape people’s lives for the next decade. If we want a fair and inclusive democracy where every voice is heard and every vote is counted equally, then we can’t let politicians carve up communities of color for political gain.

The Voting Rights Act (VRA) is a national law that protects communities of color...

Issues
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About this Case

In October 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to hear argument in a case involving Section 2 of the VRA — the strongest remaining federal statutory protection against racial discrimination in voting and redistricting.

Section 2 presents a limited but necessary constraint on jurisdictions, requiring that redistricting plans at any level — congressional, state legislative, county commission and more — cannot “abridge[]” minority voters’ equal “opportunity … to participate in the political process and to elect representatives of their choice.” For decades, courts have applied a demanding multi-part test to determine whether plaintiffs have established that a redistricting plan violates Section 2 under what is called a “vote dilution” claim.

In November 2021, multiple groups of voters and civil rights organizations filed lawsuits challenging Alabama’s newly enacted congressional redistricting plan. The groups argued that the new map violated the U.S. Constitution and Section 2 of the VRA because it packed Black Alabamians into a single district when an undiluted map would have created at least two districts. The trial court agreed that Alabama’s enacted congressional plan violated Section 2 of the VRA, and it did not decide the plaintiffs’ constitutional claims.

Alabama appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. The state has attempted to argue that part of the long-settled evidentiary requirements that Section 2 plaintiffs must prove to establish a vote dilution violation makes the statute unconstitutional.

CLC filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court, arguing that Alabama’s attacks against Section 2 are unfounded in part because Alabama has broad remedial flexibility to resolve a proven Section 2 violation. For example, CLC submitted numerous remedial options available to the State that will correct the vote dilution of Black Alabamians in the congressional map while satisfying Alabama’s other designated policy priorities even better than the enacted plan.

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