latimes.com – By David G. Savage – WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court upheld the broad reach of the Voting Rights Act on Thursday, ruling that Alabama’s Republican lawmakers are required to draw a new election district that would likely elect a Black Democrat to Congress.
By a 5-4 vote, the court surprised voting rights advocates by rejecting an appeal from Alabama’s Republicans and reaffirming the principle of fair representation for racial and ethnic minorities.
The outcome could bolster Democrats in Republican strongholds across the South and potentially tilt control of the closely divided House of Representatives.
Writing for the court, Chief Justice John G. Roberts said Congress had amended the Voting Rights Act in 1982 to assure that Black voters were not denied an equal opportunity to “elect representatives of their choice.” The voting power of Black people would be “diluted” and made meaningless if nearly all the districts can be drawn to preserve white majorities, civil rights advocates said.
Six of Alabama’s seven congressional districts reliably elect a Republican, although about 27% of the state’s population is Black. Last year, a three-judge panel that included two Trump appointees said the state could easily draw a second compact and “reasonably configured” district that a Black candidate could win.
Joining Roberts to affirm that decision were Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, Brett M. Kavanaugh and Ketanji Brown Jackson.