Supreme Court Should Reject Alabama Voting Maps That Silence Voters of Color


Washington, D.C. – Today, Campaign Legal Center (CLC) filed a brief in Merrill v. Milligan, urging the Supreme Court to reject Alabama’s attempt to severely curtail Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act and prevent the state from using voting maps that dilute the voting power of Black Alabamians.

“To achieve a fair and inclusive democracy where every voice is heard and every vote counts equally, we can’t let politicians carve up communities of color to suppress their voting power,” said Paul Smith, senior vice president of Campaign Legal Center. “The Supreme Court’s unprecedented interference in the lower court’s decision invalidating Alabama’s map illustrates why Congress needs to act to protect voters of color.”

The issue before the Supreme Court is whether voting maps drawn by Alabama’s legislature violate the Voting Rights Act, a national law that protects communities of color against attacks on their freedom to vote and right to fair representation. Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act is a key enforcement mechanism for the law and bans racial discrimination in voting.

When the Supreme Court gutted part of the Voting Rights Act in the 2013 Shelby County v. Holder case, it opened the door for states – like Alabama – to pass discriminatory voting maps without having to clear them through the Department of Justice first.

The maps in question illegally pack some Black voters into a single district while dividing other Black voters into multiple districts to minimize their political influence. A district court temporarily blocked the map from going into effect, recognizing that it likely violated Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. The Supreme Court then froze that temporary hold, forcing Black Alabamians to vote under maps that limit their voting power until the Supreme Court comes to a final decision.

CLC’s friend-of-the-court brief urges the Supreme Court to reject Alabama’s attempt to severely curtail Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, one of the last remaining tools to challenge redistricting plans that dilute the electoral strength of minority voters.

CLC’s brief provides the Supreme Court with several alternative voting maps and remedial strategies that abide by the Constitution and do not dilute the voting power of Black Alabamians. As the district court ruled, Alabama’s enacted congressional map needlessly prevents cohesive Black voters from having the equal opportunity to elect candidates of their choice. CLC’s alternative maps prove that Alabama can fix this inequity while meeting its other stated policy priorities even better than the state’s enacted plan.

The Supreme Court must step in to make the promise of democracy real for all Alabamians by blocking the state from continuing to use voting maps that dilute the voting power of Black voters.

You can read the amicus brief in full here.

Learn more about Campaign Legal Center’s work to eliminate racial vote dilution here.