The Supreme Court heard oral arguments Tuesday in a case that could lead to the further gutting of the Voting Rights Act. Some legal analysts say it appears the conservative majority may vote to uphold Alabama’s racially gerrymandered congressional map while rejecting some of the state’s broader legal claims. Alabama has defended its new congressional map, describing it as “race neutral,” but critics say it was designed to dilute the power of Black voters. During oral arguments, Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, the court’s first Black female justice, questioned Alabama’s claims and said the framers of the 14th Amendment did not intend it to be “race-neutral or race-blind.”
Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson: “The entire point of the amendment was to secure rights of the freed former slaves. The legislator who introduced that amendment said that, quote, 'Unless the Constitution should restrain them, those states will all, I fear, keep up this discrimination and crush to death the hated freedmen.' That’s not — that’s not a race-neutral or race-blind idea in terms of the remedy.”
After oral arguments, NAACP Legal Defense Fund attorney Deuel Ross spoke outside the court. He is the attorney for the lead plaintiff in the Alabama case, Evan Milligan.
Deuel Ross: “It wouldn’t only gut Section 2, but it would essentially say that any time a state or plaintiffs here who are simply drawing example plans use race or think about race, that that in and of itself is unconstitutional. And so, what you would end up with is a lot fewer majority-minority districts and even a lot fewer districts where minority voters can join with white voters and elect candidates who are responsive to their needs.”